Torture is the practice or act of deliberately inflicting severe physical pain and possibly injury on a person, though psychological and animal torture also exist. Torture has been carried out or sanctioned by individuals, groups and states throughout history from ancient times to modern day, and forms of torture can vary greatly in duration from only a few minutes to several days or even longer. Reasons for torture can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, interrogation or coercion of the victim or a third party, or simply the sadistic gratification of those carrying out or observing the torture. The torturer may or may not intend to kill or injure the victim, but sometimes torture is deliberately fatal and can accompany forms of murder or capital punishment. The aim may also be to inflict pain but without causing fatal injury, or sometimes any injury at all. In other cases, the torturer may be indifferent to the condition of the victim. There is also torture that can be fatal eventually, but where attempts are made not to kill the victim quickly to prolong the length of time of the suffering.
Although historically torture was sanctioned by some states, torture in the 21st century is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries. It is considered to be a violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention officially agree not to torture prisoners in armed conflicts. Torture is also prohibited by the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which has been ratified by 147 countries.
National and international legal prohibitions on torture derive from a consensus that torture and similar ill-treatment are immoral, as well as impractical. Despite these international conventions, organizations that monitor abuses of human rights (e.g. Amnesty International, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims) report widespread use condoned by states in many regions of the world. Amnesty International estimates that at least 81 world governments currently practice torture, some of them openly.
Famous quotes containing the word torture:
“Suffering is by no means a privilege, a sign of nobility, a reminder of God. Suffering is a fierce, bestial thing, commonplace, uncalled for, natural as air. It is intangible; no one can grasp it or fight against it; it dwells in timeis the same thing as time; if it comes in fits and starts, that is only so as to leave the sufferer more defenseless during the moments that follow, those long moments when one relives the last bout of torture and waits for the next.”
—Cesare Pavese (19081950)
“I assess the power of a will by how much resistance, pain, torture it endures and knows how to turn to its advantage.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900)
“Imagine that it is you yourself who are erecting the edifice of human destiny with the aim of making men happy in the end, of giving them peace and contentment at last, but that to do that it is absolutely necessary, and indeed quite inevitable, to torture to death only one tiny creature, the little girl who beat her breast with her little fist, and to found the edifice on her unavenged tearswould you consent to be the architect on those conditions?”
—Feodor Dostoyevsky (18211881)