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Torture

    Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment thrive behind closed doors. It must stop, and those responsible for authorizing and implementing it must be held accountable.

    The UN Convention Against Torture defines torture as "…the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing, intimidating or coercing someone." Torture is always illegal. "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."

    Abuse of prisoners doesn’t have to be torture to be illegal. Cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (CID) is also illegal under international and Canadian law. CID includes any harsh or neglectful treatment that could damage a detainee’s physical or mental health or any punishment intended to cause physical or mental pain or suffering, or to humiliate or degrade the person being punished.

    While it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between torture and CID, there are two key differences. First, torture constitutes a more severe degree of pain or suffering. Second, torture is the result of a deliberate and purposeful act aimed at imposing great suffering, while CID could be the result of accident or neglect. Both torture and CID are illegal.

    Amnesty International has campaigned against torture and CID for decades. Our campaigning helped lead to the Convention Against Torture and its Optional Protocol, and it has helped lead to most UN member states joining the Convention. We take action in support of those who have and those who continue to experience torture and CID. And we won’t stop. We won’t stop until torture is stopped.

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