In international human rights law, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, is inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession, or to punish, intimidate or coerce. The act must be carried out by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.
The prohibition of torture is absolute, meaning that no exceptions are allowed. Unfortunately, however, torture remains widespread in many countries and it is used against human rights defenders in retaliation for their work.
Torture is different from other forms of ill-treatment, including other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Broadly speaking, the difference concerns the purpose and its severity.
The Rome Statute is the treaty that set up the International Criminal Court (ICC). The treaty was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on 17 July 1998 and went into effect on 1 July 2002. The Rome Statute provides a simplest definition of torture regarding the prosecution of war criminals by the International Criminal Court. Paragraph 2(e) under Article 7 of the Rome Statute provides that:
"Torture" means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions.
My safety and the safety of my family were threatened. I was forced to sign statements without being permitted to read them.