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Encyclopedia > United Nations Convention Against Torture
CAT states: members in green, non-members in grey
CAT states: members in green, non-members in grey

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) is an international human rights instrument, organized by the United Nations and intended to prevent torture and other similar activities. It created the UN Committee Against Torture, which focuses on the duties of national leaders in a preventive role. The Committee is one of seven UN-linked Human rights treaty bodies. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1357x628, 45 KB) Summary A map of countries which have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, as compiled from the OHCHRs ratification list. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1357x628, 45 KB) Summary A map of countries which have ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, as compiled from the OHCHRs ratification list. ... International human rights instruments can be classified into two categories: declarations, adopted by bodies such as the United Nations General Assembly, which are not legally binding although they may be politically so; and conventions, which are legally binding instruments concluded under international law. ... The United Nations (UN) is an international organization whose stated aims are to facilitate co-operation in international law, international security, economic development, and social equity. ... Torture is any act by which severe pain, whether physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted on a person as a means of intimidation, deterrence, revenge, punishment, sadism, or information gathering. ... The United Nations-linked human rights treaty bodies are committees of independent experts that monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. ...


UNCAT came into force in June 1987 and to date 141 nations are party to it, with another 10 having signed but not yet ratified. 1987 (MCMLXXXVII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar. ...


The Convention Against Torture is one of a series of UN agreements that seek to protect human rights. The most relevant articles on torture are articles 1, 2, 3 and the first paragraph of article 16. Human rights are rights which some hold to be inalienable and belonging to all humans. ...

Article 1
1. Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.
Article 2
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.
Article 3
1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.
Article 16
1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


There are several points which need highlighting: Look up Pain in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... A person is defined by philosophers as a being who is in possession of a range of psychological capacities that are regarded as both necessary and sufficient to fulfill the requirements of personhood. ... An official is, in the primary sense, someone who holds an office in an organisation, of any kind. ...

  • Section 1: torture is defined as severe pain or suffering, which means there must be levels of pain and suffering which are not severe enough to be called torture (often termed "cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment"). However, "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" is independently proscribed in the Univeral Declaration of Human Rights Article 5. Discussions on this area of international law are influenced by a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on sensory deprivation.
  • Section 2: If a state has signed the treaty without reservations[citation needed], then there are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever where a state can use torture and not break its treaty obligations. However the worst sanction which can be applied to a powerful county is the publishing of the information that they have broken their treaty obligations. In certain exceptional cases the authorities in those countries may consider that with plausible deniability that this is an acceptable risk to take as the definition of severe is open to flexible interpretation.
  • Section 16: contains the phrase territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, so if the government of a state authorises its personnel to use sensory deprivation on a detainee in territory not under its jurisdiction then it is suggested that that government has not broken its treaty obligations.

The Convention has received new attention in the world press because of the Stress and duress interrogation techniques used on the detainees by United States military personnel, most notably at the Abu Ghraib prison and Bagram prison. The United States ratified the Convention, but declared that "... nothing in this Convention requires or authorizes legislation, or other action, by the United States of America prohibited by the Constitution of the United States as interpreted by the United States." [1], footnote #11). European Court of Human Rights building in Strasbourg The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), often referred to informally as the Strasbourg Court, was created to systematise the hearing of human rights complaints against States Parties to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by... A prisoner at the United States Camp X-ray facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba being subjected to sensory deprivation, through the use of ear muffs, visor, breathing mask and heavy mittens. ... Plausible deniability also Deniability is the term given to the creation of loose and informal chains of command in government, which allow controversial instructions given by high-ranking officials to be denied if they become public. ... Stress and duress is a term which has been use by the United States Administration as a label to describe interrogation techniques authorised at Cabinet level, for use by United States security forces on detainees who are thought to be a threat the United States of America, its citizens, or... Satar Jabar standing on a box with wires connected to his body Prisoners Ordered to Form Human Pyramid Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse images Beginning in 2003, numerous accounts of abuse and torture of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (also known... In 2005, a 2,000-page U.S. Army report was obtained by the New York Times concerning the homicides of two unarmed civilian Afghan prisoners by U.S. armed forces in 2002 at the Bagram Collection Point. ...


The Convention also requires states to take effective measures to prevent torture within their borders, and forbids states to return people to their home country if there is reason to believe they will be tortured.


See also

Peace Palace in The Hague Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard, or the Medina standard is the doctrine of hierarchical accountability in cases of war crimes. ... Torture is any act by which severe pain, whether physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted on a person as a means of intimidation, deterrence, revenge, punishment, sadism, or information gathering. ... The United States Military Commissions Act of 2006, Pub. ... Extraordinary rendition or torture by proxy is a procedure used by the government of the United States and other Western countries whereby foreign suspects are sent to another country for interrogation under less humane conditions. ... Torture, the infliction of severe physical or psychological pain upon an individual to extract information, a confession or as a punishment, is prohibited by international law and illegal in most countries. ...

External links

  • Human Rights Watch summary of the Convention
  • Official text of the Convention
  • Official UN site with list of countries participating in the Convention
  • U.N. Committee against Torture
  • List of links to other related documents
  • Translation of a simplified version of the Convention
  • Egyptian activists' website on torture in egypt

 
 

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