Nearly a third of people worldwide support the use of torture against terror suspects in some circumstances, a BBC survey suggests.
Over 27,000 people in 25 countries, including Israel, were asked if torture was acceptable if it could provide information to save innocent lives. Fifty-nine percent were opposed to torture, 29 percent replied it an acceptable means to combat terrorism.
Respondents were asked which position was closer to their own views:
a) Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture.
b) Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.
In Israel a majority of Jewish respondents in Israel, 53 percent, agreed that the governments should be allowed to use some degree of torture to obtain information from terror suspects, while 39 percent were completely opposed and wanted clear rules against it. However the Muslim population in Israel polled overwhelmingly against any use of torture.
58 percent against torture in US
And what do countries who have suffered terror attacks think? In the United States 58 percent oppose torture, 36 percent are in favor and 6 percent haven't made up their minds yet.
In Britain, where a large scale terror plot was recently thwarted, 72 percent are against retrieving information from terror suspects through torture while 24 percent are in favor. Similar figures were apparent in Spain, where 65 percent oppose terror and only 16 percent condone it.
The poll was also conducted in Muslim countries. In Iraq, which suffers daily terror attacks, 42 percent are in favor of torturing terror suspects, 55 percent are against it. In Egypt the figure drops to 25 percent in favor and 62 percent against. The rest are undecided.
In three other countries, besides Israel, less than half the population polled against torturing terror suspects. In China – 49 percent were against and 37 percent were in favor.
In Russia, 43 percent polled against and 37 percent were in favor. In India, which has also suffered from terror attacks the data is intriguing – 23 percent are against torture and 23 percent are in favor of the tactic. The remaining 45 percent have yet to make up their minds.