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Convention against Torture
and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Introduction | Article Summaries | Full Text

Excerpts from Methods of Combating Torture, Fact Sheet #4, UN Centre for Human Rights:

"Torture is a particularly serious violation of human rights and, as such, is strictly condemned by international law and, in particular, by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 5, which states that 'No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'.

To ensure adequate protection for all persons against such abuses, the United Nations has sought for many years to develop universally applicable standards. The Convention against Torture ..., which was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1984, and many other relevant conventions, declarations and resolutions adopted by the international community, clearly state that there may be no exception to the prohibition against torture....

The Convention against Torture ... not only specifies that the States Parties will outlaw torture in their national legislation, but also notes explicitly that no order from a superior or exceptional circumstance may be invoked as a justification of torture...."

Introduction | Article Summaries | Full Text

Unofficial Summary


Article 1

Definition of torture: any act by which severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession from him or another person, punishing, intimidating or coercing him or another person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind. For the purposes of this convention, such pain and suffering must be inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the acquiescence of a public official or someone acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain and suffering arising from lawful sanctions.

Article 2

Each State Party shall take effective legislative and other measures to prevent acts of torture. No circumstances of any kind, including war, may be invoked to justify torture. An order from a superior officer may not be invoked to justify torture.

Article 3

No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds to believe he would be subjected to torture.

Article 4

Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture, attempts to commit torture, and complicity or participation in torture are offences punishable by law.

Article 5

Each State Party shall establish its jurisdiction over offenses relating to torture when they are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction, or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State; when the alleged offender is a national of that State; and when the victim is a national of that State, if appropriate. Each State Party shall also establish its jurisdiction in cases where the alleged offender is in territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him.

Article 6

Any State Party in whose territory a person alleged to have committed, attempted or participated in torture is present, shall take him into custody.

Article 7

The State Party, if it does not extradite the alleged offender, will submit the case to competent authorities for prosecution. The person shall be guaranteed fair treatment at all stages of the proceedings.

Article 8

Torture, attempted torture, or participation in torture shall be deemed extraditable offences in any extradition treaty existing between States Parties. This Convention may be considered a legal basis for extradition if no extradition treaty exists.

Article 9

States Parties shall provide each other with the greatest degree of judicial assistance possible in connection with cases of alleged torture and supply all of the evidence at their disposal.

Article 10

Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of civil and military law enforcement personnel, medical personnel, public officials, and others involved in custody, interrogation, or treatment of any individual subjected to arrest, detention, or imprisonment.

Article 11

Each State Party shall review interrogation rules, instructions, methods and practices, as well as arrangements for the custody and treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment, with a view to preventing any cases of torture.

Article 12

Each State Party shall ensure that its authorities proceed with a prompt and impartial investigation wherever there is ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in territory under its jurisdiction.

Article 13

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to complain to, and to have his case promptly examined by, competent authorities.

Article 14

Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of torture, his dependents shall be entitled to compensation.

Article 15

Each State Party shall ensure that any statement made as a result of torture shall not be used as evidence in any proceedings.

Article 16

Each State Party shall undertake to prevent other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in Article 1, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or someone acting in official capacity.


For more information, please contact PDHRE:

The People's Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) / NY Office
Shulamith Koenig / Executive Director
526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025, USA
tel: +1 212.749-3156; fax: +1 212.666-6325
e-mail: pdhre@igc.org