Torture is when someone in authority intentionally causes severe pain or suffering for a specific purpose. Such as to get information or a confession out of you, to punish, intimidate or threaten you.

It can be physical, such as beating, forcing into a painful position or sexual, such as rape. It can be psychological, such as sleep deprivation or public humiliation.

Torture is illegal: outlawed internationally since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. And 156 countries have signed the UN Convention against Torture. All forms of cruelty and humiliation are also outlawed.

Yet some governments openly continue to torture despite their commitments. Others betray their people by carrying out torture in secret.


• is barbaric and inhumane
• is banned under international law
• corrodes the rule of law and undermines the criminal justice system
… can never, ever be justified

For decades, Amnesty has exposed governments who torture. We have had many successes, including the historic moment 30 years ago when the UN voted for a Convention against Torture – a groundbreaking step towards making the global ban on torture a reality.

We also support torture survivors to get justice. People like Ángel Colón, who was released in October 2014, nearly six years after he was tortured and wrongly imprisoned in Mexico. More than 20,000 Amnesty supporters demanded his release. Ángel told us: “My message to all those who are showing me their solidarity, and are against torture and discrimination, is ‘don’t drop your guard. A new horizon is dawning’.”


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