Artistic wireIn 2016, Aloysia Brooks completed her second doctorate at the University of Wollongong.

Her PhD thesis, entitled The Annihilation of Memory and Silent Suffering: Inhibiting Outrage at the Injustice of Torture in the War on Terror in Australia, draws on Professor Brian Martin’s Backfire model in order to examine ways in which outrage relating to torture that has occurred as a result of the War on Terror has been inhibited in the Australian context. The research raises several issues relating to the politics of torture in Australia, including the dehumanisation of certain individuals and groups by those who are in positions to set powerful narratives, and the role of the Australian media in reframing and ‘softening’ certain forms of torture.

Aloysia has also completed extensive academic research examining issues relating to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the Australian context. The research identifies issues relating to the treatment of involuntarily detained persons, including prisoners, trafficking victims, asylum seekers and those in psychiatric facilities and nursing homes. You can access the pdf report here.

Some of the key human rights issues identified include suspicious deaths in custody, conditions of confinement, the means of restraint (both chemical and physical), strip-searching, isolation, the use of tasers, increased powers of detention for intelligence organisations and physical assault. In addition, the issue of non-state actor torture (NSAT) is examined in the Australian context and the responsibility of States in addressing and preventing torture that occurs in the domestic sphere. In light of these issues,  relevant torture prevention strategies were developed.

In 2012, Aloysia provided background research in relation to US torture practices for the Torture Prevention Project at the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights at the University of Sydney. The Project was funded by the European Union to investigate the root causes of torture. The aim of the project was to take an alternative approach to understanding torture by exploring the reasons why certain members of the police and military engage in acts of torture. The Project aim was to develop innovative training manuals to be utilised internationally as part of the global effort to prevent torture. She left the project in 2013.

Australian Involvement in the War on Terror

A large part of Aloysia’s research involved Freedom of Information requests made both here in Australia and in the United States. Aloysia was involved in several legal actions for documents relating to Australia’s involvement in the War on Terror, including the CIA extraordinary rendition program, the Australian military role in US operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa, and US torture practices in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

You can read more about the FOI requests and the US lawsuit over documents here.