Torture

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University of Iceland Fall 2012
International Human Rights Law 26 November 2012 LÖG111F

The term “torture” according to Article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture and scope of the Convention.

Helene Inga Stankiewicz Björg Thorarensen
311088-3439

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction………………………………………………………………….…...…3 2. The Convention against Torture…………………………………………..….….…3 3.1. Structure of the Convention………………………………………….……..…4 3. Article 1: Definition of Torture……………………………………………..............4 4.2. The Conduct.……………………………………………………………….….5 4.3.1. “Act”……………………………………………………………….…...5 4.3.2. “Severe Pain or Suffering”………………………………………….….5 4.3.3. “Physical or Mental”……………………………………………………6 4.3. The Purpose and Intention of the Conduct…………………………………….6 4.4.4. “Intentional and purposeful”………………………………….………...6 4.4. The Offender’s Identity………………………………………………….…….6 4.5.5. “Public Official”…………………………………………………….….6 4.5. The Exclusions……………………………………………………………..…..7 4.6.6. “Does not include pain or suffering from lawful sanctions”...…………7 4. The Scope of the Convention……………………………………………………….7 5.6. Obligation and Responsibility of States……………………………………......7 5.7. Monitoring Mechanisms……………………………………….........................8 5.8.7. Individual Complaint…………………………………………………...9 5. Conclusion……………………………………………………………….................9

1. Introduction
Since immemorial time many peoples in different societies and various cultures have practiced torture. Though torture in the form of slavery was legally eliminated in continents of Europe and America in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries it continued to exist and re-appear in various forms during the 20th century. The extremely tragic torture and inhuman treatment operations that were conducted most notoriously under the totalitarian rule of Stalinism and National Socialism throughout the two World Wars stimulated an increased interest in human rights which finally evolved into a reaction against this background by prohibiting all such practices in a catalogue of international provisions starting with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Further on, the prohibition was included in 1966 in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and in 1950 in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as well as other regional human rights mechanisms. The most thorough international agreement prohibiting torture is the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was adopted on 10 December 1984. The Convention was the first international agreement to make an effort of defining the term ‘torture’. In spite of a consensus on the prohibition of torture there are disputes regarding the scope and meaning of the term. There are still multiple legal definitions and interpretations of the term ’torture’. Agreeing upon a universal definition and understanding the scope and nature of the Convention is critical if torture is to be eradicated.

2. Convention against Torture
Even though important efforts had been made to abolish acts of torture since the establishment of the United Nations, there were instances of horrific torture activities in some States of the world during the second part of the 20th century. This highlighted the necessity to define the term ‘torture’ more explicitly to advance the possibility of increased collaborative international action to eliminate this crime against humanity. Therefore the now extinct Commission on Human Rights was petitioned by the General Assembly to outline a Convention against Torture in the year 1977. The issues that caused negotiations and debates regarding definitions and structure finally reached an agreement and the Convention started operating in 1987 and is currently...
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