« no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment ».
Torture is a seriousviolation of human rights and is strictly prohibited by international law. As the use of torture strikes at the very heart of civil and political freedoms, it was one of the first issues dealt with by theUnited Nations (UN) in its development of human rights standards. One of its earliest measures was to abolitish corporal punishment in colonial territories in 1949. International law prohibits tortureand other forms of inhuman and degrading treatment, which cannot be accepted under any circumstances.
What is torture?
Definitions of torture vary slightly between different international treatiesbut generally cover any act which:
- causes severe pain or suffering;
- is intentionally inflicted on a person;
- is done to obtain informatikon or a confession, punishment for an act he or a thirdperson has committed or is suspected of having committed, or to intimidate or coerce him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind; and
- is done at the instigation of,or with the consent or acquiescence of, a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
The term "torture" encompasses a variety of methods including severe beatings, electricshock, sexual abuse and rape, prolonged solitary confinement, hard labour, near drowning, near suffocation, mutilation, and hanging for prolonged periods.
Although there is no exhaustive list ofprohibited acts, international law has made it clear that torture is "cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment." In addition to the types of severe pain and suffering mentioned above, torture thus also includesbeing forced to stand spread eagled against the wall for hours; being subjected to bright lights or blindfolding; being subjected to continuous loud noise; being deprived of sleep, food or drink;...