21 Facts About Torture


Torture aims to break the victim's will and destroy their agency and personality.

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Torture is prohibited under international law for all states under all circumstances and is explicitly forbidden by several treaties.

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Torture is defined as the deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on someone under the control of the perpetrator.

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Torture is commonly mentioned in historical sources on Assyria and Achaemenid Persia.

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Torture was rare in early medieval Europe but became more common between 1200 and 1400.

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Torture was still a labor-intensive process reserved for the most serious crimes; most torture victims were men accused of murder, treason, or theft.

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Torture was already of marginal importance to European criminal justice systems by its formal abolition in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

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Torture was widely used by colonial powers to subdue resistance and reached a peak during the anti-colonial wars in the twentieth century.

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Torture was used by both communist and anti-communist governments during the Cold War in Latin America, with an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 victims of torture by United States–backed regimes.

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Torture that occurs outside of custody—including extrajudicial punishment, intimidation, and crowd control—has traditionally not been counted, even though some studies have suggested it is more common than torture in places of detention.

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Torture is more likely when a society feels threatened because of wars or crises, but studies have not found a consistent relationship between the use of torture and terrorist attacks.

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Torture is directed against certain segments of the population, who are denied the protection against torture that others enjoy.

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Torture victims are often viewed by the perpetrators as serious threats and enemies of the state.

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Torture can be a side effect of a broken criminal justice system in which underfunding, lack of judicial independence, or corruption undermines effective investigations and fair trials.

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Torture has been used throughout history to extract confessions from detainees.

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Torture is one of the most devastating experiences that a person can undergo.

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Torture aims to break the victim's will and destroy the victim's agency and personality.

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Torture has corrupting effects on the institutions and societies that perpetrate it.

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Torture is criticized on the basis of all major ethical frameworks, including deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics.

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Torture remains central to the human rights movement in the twenty-first century.

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Torture was prosecuted during the Nuremberg trials as a crime against humanity; it is recognized by both the 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court as a war crime.

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