Examine the case of the prosecution and the defense. Then decide: Which side are you on?

Was The Use Of Torture Legal?

The Amboyna controversy hinges on the difficult question of legal torture. Almost all the confessions (with the possible exception of Edward Collins who you will consider next) were obtained via the use of the 'torture of water' or waterboarding, that is the accused denied all knowledge until they were tortured and brought to confession via this means. The controversy centers on two points. First, was torture used correctly and legally in Amboyna? Second, was waterboarding a reliable mechanism for interrogation? The Prosecution argues that waterboarding was a uniquely moderate form of interrogation that cannot properly be labeled as torture and which can be relied upon to produce accurate information. In contrast, the Defense asserts that waterboarding was a brutal torture that generated unreliable information because the victim would say anything simply to make it stop. As a result, the confessions produced by torture cannot be relied upon to prove the existence of a plot.

The Prosecution

First, torture was a standard part of seventeenth century law. It was used across Europe and was an entirely routine component of judicial practice in the Dutch Republic as well as the Dutch East India Company’s overseas territories. The case took place in Dutch territory and was thus tried according to Dutch laws. Second, waterboarding itself was a uniquely moderate form of torture that causes less pain than torture techniques such as the rack that were generally used across Europe and which were far more painful, harder and more dangerous than the one with water. Waterboarding only causes a great anguish by hindrance of his breath, but cannot cause any lameness or other unsoundness, and this anguish presently ceases with the removing of the cloth over the face. It is, in other words, simply a terror of perception rather than reality. The flow of water into the victim’s mouth created the “perception of drowning,” a false sense of panic that dissipated as soon as the interrogation ceased. For all these reasons, we can trust the information that was extracted via the use of waterboarding.
"The bailiff and sheriffs of the town of Batavia declare and certify ... that it is true that the torture with water has always been used by the Dutch in India as being the most most civil and causes less pain than the the torture generally used in all Europe, which is always looked upon as much more painful, much harder and more dangerous than the one with water, whereby neither the health of persons nor any member of their body is hurt or mutilated, To certify this we have fixed our usual seal of the town at the bottom hereof."

The Defense

First, the Dutch violated their own laws regarding the use of torture. Dutch law required the presence of half proof, that is overwhelming circumstantial evidence, before torture could even be used. This was not present here as the only evidence available to the Dutch was Shichizo’s supposedly suspicious questioning. Dutch Law also required that any confessions extracted via the use of torture be confirmed by the accused at least 24 hours after the initial confession at a moment when they were unbound and not suffering torture. Neither one of these rules was followed. Second, waterboarding is a brutal torture that cannot be relied upon to generate accurate information. It induces a terrifying sense of drowning that breaks down all resistance. Simply because it produces no lasting physical harm does not in any way alter the fact that it is a particularly vicious form of torture.
“stifling and choking him, at length took away his breath, and brought him to a swoon or fainting. Then they took him quickly down, and made him vomit up the water. Being a little recovered, they triced him up again and poured in the water as before”


Which side are you on?

I'm not sure