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Do Countries That Torture Experience More Terrorism?

- May 7, 2009

The short answer is yes.

bq. My colleague Jim Piazza and I have a paper coming out in Comparative Political Studies that analyzes the influence of human rights abuses on terrorism. We find that, for a wide range of data sources, control variables, and statistical specifications that governments that abuse rights actually experience more terrorism.

bq. But what about torture? Torture is only one of the broader range of human rights we looked at in the paper. Is the relationship of torture to terror different? It might be, since far more countries engage in torture than in other forms of violent human rights abuses. To answer this question, I re-analyzed the data from the paper…

bq. …Torture has a negative and statistically significant relationship to terrorism…In other words, countries that engage in more torture…consistently experience more, not less, of both domestic and transnational terrorism. This mirrors the more general finding reported in the paper that respect for human rights is associated with less terror as well.

For more, see this post by Jim Walsh at Back Channels.