Skip to main content

Search

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment - Human rights at your fingertips - Human rights at your fingertips

Commission Commission – General
Friday 14 December, 2012

Human rights at your fingertips



9 Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General
Assembly resolution 39/46 of 10 December 1984

ENTRY INTO FORCE: 26 June 1987, in accordance with article 27 (1)

The States Parties to this Convention,

Considering that, in accordance with the principles proclaimed in the Charter
of the United Nations, recognition of the equal and inalienable rights of all
members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in
the world,

Recognizing that those rights derive from the inherent dignity of the human
person,

Considering the obligation of States under the Charter, in particular article
55, to promote universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and
fundamental freedoms,

Having regard to article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of
which provide that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment or punishment,

Having regard also to the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from
Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975,

Desiring to make more effective the struggle against torture and other cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment throughout the world,

Have agreed as follows:

PART I

Article 1

1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means 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 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under
its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an
act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate
penalties which take into account their grave nature.

Article 5

1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to
establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the
following cases:

(a) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction
or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;

(b) When the alleged offender is a national of that State;

(c) When the victim is a national of that State if that State considers it
appropriate.

2. Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be necessary to
establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged
offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not
extradite him pursuant to article 8 to any of the States mentioned in paragraph
1 of this article.

3. This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in
accordance with internal law.

Article 6

1. Upon being satisfied, after an examination of information available to
it, that the circumstances so warrant, any State Party in whose territory a
person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is present
shall take him into custody or take other legal measures to ensure his presence.
The custody and other legal measures shall be as provided in the law of that
State but may be continued only for such time as is necessary to enable any
criminal or extradition proceedings to be instituted.

2. Such State shall immediately make a preliminary inquiry into the facts.

3. Any person in custody pursuant to paragraph 1 of this article shall be
assisted in communicating immediately with the nearest appropriate
representative of the State of which he is a national, or, if he is a stateless
person, with the representative of the State where he usually resides.

4. When a State, pursuant to this article, has taken a person into custody,
it shall immediately notify the States referred to in article 5, paragraph 1, of
the fact that such person is in custody and of the circumstances which warrant
his detention. The State which makes the preliminary inquiry contemplated in
paragraph 2 of this article shall promptly report its findings to the said
States and shall indicate whether it intends to exercise jurisdiction.

Article 7

1. The State Party in the territory under whose jurisdiction a person
alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found shall in
the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the
case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

2. These authorities shall take their decision in the same manner as in the
case of any ordinary offence of a serious nature under the law of that State. In
the cases referred to in article 5, paragraph 2, the standards of evidence
required for prosecution and conviction shall in no way be less stringent than
those which apply in the cases referred to in article 5, paragraph 1.

3. Any person regarding whom proceedings are brought in connection with any
of the offences referred to in article 4 shall be guaranteed fair treatment at
all stages of the proceedings.

Article 8

1. The offences referred to in article 4 shall be deemed to be included as
extraditable offences in any extradition treaty existing between States Parties.
States Parties undertake to include such offences as extraditable offences in
every extradition treaty to be concluded between them.

2. If a State Party which makes extradition conditional on the existence of
a treaty receives a request for extradition from another State Party with which
it has no extradition treaty, it may consider this Convention as the legal basis
for extradition in respect of such offences. Extradition shall be subject to the
other conditions provided by the law of the requested State.

3. States Parties which do not make extradition conditional on the existence
of a treaty shall recognize such offences as extraditable offences between
themselves subject to the conditions provided by the law of the requested State.

4. Such offences shall be treated, for the purpose of extradition between
States Parties, as if they had been committed not only in the place in which
they occurred but also in the territories of the States required to establish
their jurisdiction in accordance with article 5, paragraph 1.

Article 9

1. States Parties shall afford one another the greatest measure of
assistance in connection with criminal proceedings brought in respect of any of
the offences referred to in article 4, including the supply of all evidence at
their disposal necessary for the proceedings.

2. States Parties shall carry out their obligations under paragraph 1 of
this article in conformity with any treaties on mutual judicial assistance that
may exist between them.

Article 10

1. Each State Party shall ensure that education and information regarding
the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law
enforcement personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials
and other persons who may be involved in the custody, interrogation or treatment
of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.

2. Each State Party shall include this prohibition in the rules or
instructions issued in regard to the duties and functions of any such person.

Article 11

Each State Party shall keep under systematic review interrogation rules,
instructions, methods and practices as well as arrangements for the custody and
treatment of persons subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment
in any territory under its jurisdiction, with a view to preventing any cases of
torture.

Article 12

Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a
prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to
believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its
jurisdiction.

Article 13

Each State Party shall ensure that any individual who alleges he has been
subjected to torture in any territory under its jurisdiction has the right to
complain to, and to have his case promptly and impartially examined by, its
competent authorities. Steps shall be taken to ensure that the complainant and
witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a
consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.

Article 14

1. Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an
act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate
compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the
event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his
dependants shall be entitled to compensation.

2. Nothing in this article shall affect any right of the victim or other
persons to compensation which may exist under national law.

Article 15

Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have
been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any
proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the
statement was made.

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 1, 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.

2. The provisions of this Convention are without prejudice to the provisions
of any other international instrument or national law which prohibits cruel,
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or which relates to extradition or
expulsion.

PART II

Article 17

1. There shall be established a Committee against Torture (hereinafter
referred to as the Committee) which shall carry out the functions hereinafter
provided. The Committee shall consist of ten experts of high moral standing and
recognized competence in the field of human rights, who shall serve in their
personal capacity. The experts shall be elected by the States Parties,
consideration being given to equitable geographical distribution and to the
usefulness of the participation of some persons having legal experience.

2. The members of the Committee shall be elected by secret ballot from a
list of persons nominated by States Parties. Each State Party may nominate one
person from among its own nationals. States Parties shall bear in mind the
usefulness of nominating persons who are also members of the Human Rights
Committee established under the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and who are willing to serve on the Committee against Torture.

3. Elections of the members of the Committee shall be held at biennial
meetings of States Parties convened by the Secretary-General of the United
Nations. At those meetings, for which two thirds of the States Parties shall
constitute a quorum, the persons elected to the Committee shall be those who
obtain the largest number of votes and an absolute majority of the votes of the
representatives of States Parties present and voting.

4. The initial election shall be held no later than six months after the
date of the entry into force of this Convention. At Ieast four months before the
date of each election, the Secretary-General of the United Nations shall address
a letter to the States Parties inviting them to submit their nominations within
three months. The Secretary-General shall prepare a list in alphabetical order
of all persons thus nominated, indicating the States Parties which have
nominated them, and shall submit it to the States Parties.

5. The members of the Committee shall be elected for a term of four years.
They shall be eligible for re-election if renominated. However, the term of five
of the members elected at the first election shall expire at the end of two
years; immediately after the first election the names of these five members
shall be chosen by lot by the chairman of the meeting referred to in paragraph 3
of this article.

6. If a member of the Committee dies or resigns or for any other cause can
no longer perform his Committee duties, the State Party which nominated him
shall appoint another expert from among its nationals to serve for the remainder
of his term, subject to the approval of the majority of the States Parties. The
approval shall be considered given unless half or more of the States Parties
respond negatively within six weeks after having been informed by the
Secretary-General of the United Nations of the proposed appointment.

7. States Parties shall be responsible for the expenses of the members of
the Committee while they are in performance of Committee duties.

Article 18

1. The Committee shall elect its officers for a term of two years. They may
be re-elected.

2. The Committee shall establish its own rules of procedure, but these rules
shall provide, inter alia, that:

(a) Six members shall constitute a quorum;

(b) Decisions of the Committee shall be made by a majority vote of the
members present.

3. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall provide the necessary
staff and facilities for the effective performance of the functions of the
Committee under this Convention.

4. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall convene the initial
meeting of the Committee. After its initial meeting, the Committee shall meet at
such times as shall be provided in its rules of procedure.

5. The States Parties shall be responsible for expenses incurred in
connection with the holding of meetings of the States Parties and of the
Committee, including reimbursement to the United Nations for any expenses, such
as the cost of staff and facilities, incurred by the United Nations pursuant to
paragraph 3 of this article.

Article 19

1. The States Parties shall submit to the Committee, through the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, reports on the measures they have taken
to give effect to their undertakings under this Convention, within one year
after the entry into force of the Convention for the State Party concerned.
Thereafter the States Parties shall submit supplementary reports every four
years on any new measures taken and such other reports as the Committee may
request.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit the reports to
all States Parties.

3. Each report shall be considered by the Committee which may make such
general comments on the report as it may consider appropriate and shall forward
these to the State Party concerned. That State Party may respond with any
observations it chooses to the Committee.

4. The Committee may, at its discretion, decide to include any comments made
by it in accordance with paragraph 3 of this article, together with the
observations thereon received from the State Party concerned, in its annual
report made in accordance with article 24. If so requested by the State Party
concerned, the Committee may also include a copy of the report submitted under
paragraph 1 of this article.

Article 20

1. If the Committee receives reliable information which appears to it to
contain well-founded indications that torture is being systematically practised
in the territory of a State Party, the Committee shall invite that State Party
to co-operate in the examination of the information and to this end to submit
observations with regard to the information concerned.

2. Taking into account any observations which may have been submitted by the
State Party concerned, as well as any other relevant information available to
it, the Committee may, if it decides that this is warranted, designate one or
more of its members to make a confidential inquiry and to report to the
Committee urgently.

3. If an inquiry is made in accordance with paragraph 2 of this article, the
Committee shall seek the co-operation of the State Party concerned. In agreement
with that State Party, such an inquiry may include a visit to its territory.

4. After examining the findings of its member or members submitted in
accordance with paragraph 2 of this article, the Commission shall transmit these
findings to the State Party concerned together with any comments or suggestions
which seem appropriate in view of the situation.

5. All the proceedings of the Committee referred to in paragraphs 1 to 4 of
this article shall be confidential, and at all stages of the proceedings the
co-operation of the State Party shall be sought. After such proceedings have
been completed with regard to an inquiry made in accordance with paragraph 2,
the Committee may, after consultations with the State Party concerned, decide to
include a summary account of the results of the proceedings in its annual report
made in accordance with article 24.

Article 21

1. A State Party to this Convention may at any time declare under this
article that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and
consider communications to the effect that a State Party claims that another
State Party is not fulfilling its obligations under this Convention. Such
communications may be received and considered according to the procedures laid
down in this article only if submitted by a State Party which has made a
declaration recognizing in regard to itself the competence of the Committee. No
communication shall be dealt with by the Committee under this article if it
concerns a State Party which has not made such a declaration. Communications
received under this article shall be dealt with in accordance with the following
procedure;

(a) If a State Party considers that another State Party is not giving effect
to the provisions of this Convention, it may, by written communication, bring
the matter to the attention of that State Party. Within three months after the
receipt of the communication the receiving State shall afford the State which
sent the communication an explanation or any other statement in writing
clarifying the matter, which should include, to the extent possible and
pertinent, reference to domestic procedures and remedies taken, pending or
available in the matter;

(b) If the matter is not adjusted to the satisfaction of both States Parties
concerned within six months after the receipt by the receiving State of the
initial communication, either State shall have the right to refer the matter to
the Committee, by notice given to the Committee and to the other State;

(c) The Committee shall deal with a matter referred to it under this article
only after it has ascertained that all domestic remedies have been invoked and
exhausted in the matter, in conformity with the generally recognized principles
of international law. This shall not be the rule where the application of the
remedies is unreasonably prolonged or is unlikely to bring effective relief to
the person who is the victim of the violation of this Convention;

(d) The Committee shall hold closed meetings when examining communications
under this article;

(e) Subject to the provisions of subparagraph (e), the Committee shall make
available its good offices to the States Parties concerned with a view to a
friendly solution of the matter on the basis of respect for the obligations
provided for in this Convention. For this purpose, the Committee may, when
appropriate, set up an ad hoc conciliation commission;

(f) In any matter referred to it under this article, the Committee may call
upon the States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b), to supply
any relevant information;

(g) The States Parties concerned, referred to in subparagraph (b), shall have
the right to be represented when the matter is being considered by the Committee
and to make submissions orally and/or in writing;

(h) The Committee shall, within twelve months after the date of receipt of
notice under subparagraph (b), submit a report:

(i) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (e) is reached, the
Committee shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts and of the
solution reached;

(ii) If a solution within the terms of subparagraph (e) is not reached, the
Committee shall confine its report to a brief statement of the facts; the
written submissions and record of the oral submissions made by the States
Parties concerned shall be attached to the report.

In every matter, the report shall be communicated to the States Parties
concerned.

2. The provisions of this article shall come into force when five States
Parties to this Convention have made declarations under paragraph 1 of this
article. Such declarations shall be deposited by the States Parties with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to
the other States Parties.
A declaration may be withdrawn at any time by
notification to the Secretary-General. Such a withdrawal shall not prejudice the
consideration of any matter which is the subject of a communication already
transmitted under this article; no further communication by any State Party
shall be received under this article after the notification of withdrawal of the
declaration has been received by the Secretary-General, unless the State Party
concerned has made a new declaration.

Article 22

1. A State Party to this Convention may at any time declare under this
article that it recognizes the competence of the Committee to receive and
consider communications from or on behalf of individuals subject to its
jurisdiction who claim to be victims of a violation by a State Party of the
provisions of the Convention. No communication shall be received by the
Committee if it concerns a State Party which has not made such a declaration.

2. The Committee shall consider inadmissible any communication under this
article which is anonymous or which it considers to be an abuse of the right of
submission of such communications or to be incompatible with the provisions of
this Convention.

3. Subject to the provisions of paragraph 2, the Committee shall bring any
communications submitted to it under this article to the attention of the State
Party to this Convention which has made a declaration under paragraph 1 and is
alleged to be violating any provisions of the Convention. Within six months, the
receiving State shall submit to the Committee written explanations or statements
clarifying the matter and the remedy, if any, that may have been taken by that
State.

4. The Committee shall consider communications received under this article
in the light of all information made available to it by or on behalf of the
individual and by the State Party concerned.

5. The Committee shall not consider any communications from an individual
under this article unless it has ascertained that:

(a) The same matter has not been, and is not being, examined under another
procedure of international investigation or settlement;

(b) The individual has exhausted all available domestic remedies; this shall
not be the rule where the application of the remedies is unreasonably prolonged
or is unlikely to bring effective relief to the person who is the victim of the
violation of this Convention.

6. The Committee shall hold closed meetings when examining communications
under this article.

7. The Committee shall forward its views to the State Party concerned and to
the individual.

8. The provisions of this article shall come into force when five States
Parties to this Convention have made declarations under paragraph 1 of this
article. Such declarations shall be deposited by the States Parties with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, who shall transmit copies thereof to
the other States Parties. A declaration may be withdrawn at any time by
notification to the Secretary-General. Such a withdrawal shall not prejudice the
consideration of any matter which is the subject of a communication already
transmitted under this article; no further communication by or on behalf of an
individual shall be received under this article after the notification of
withdrawal of the declaration has been received by the Secretary General, unless
the State Party has made a new declaration.

Article 23

The members of the Committee and of the ad hoc conciliation commissions which
may be appointed under article 21, paragraph 1(e), shall be entitled to the
facilities, privileges and immunities of experts on mission for the United
Nations as laid down in the relevant sections of the Convention on the
Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations.

Article 24

The Committee shall submit an annual report on its activities under this
Convention to the States Parties and to the General Assembly of the United
Nations.

PART III

Article 25

1. This Convention is open for signature by all States.

2. This Convention is subject to ratification. Instruments of ratification
shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 26

This Convention is open to accession by all States. Accession shall be
effected by the deposit of an instrument of accession with the Secretary General
of the United Nations.

Article 27

1. This Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the
date of the deposit with the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the
twentieth instrument of ratification or accession.

2. For each State ratifying this Convention or acceding to it after the
deposit of the twentieth instrument of ratification or accession, the Convention
shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date of the deposit of its
own instrument of ratification or accession.

Article 28

1. Each State may, at the time of signature or ratification of this
Convention or accession thereto, declare that it does not recognize the
competence of the Committee provided for in article 20.

2. Any State Party having made a reservation in accordance with paragraph 1
of this article may, at any time, withdraw this reservation by notification to
the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 29

1. Any State Party to this Convention may propose an amendment and file it
with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall
thereupon communicate the proposed amendment to the States Parties with a
request that they notify him whether they favour a conference of States Parties
for the purpose of considering and voting upon the proposal. In the event that
within four months from the date of such communication at least one third of the
States Parties favours such a conference, the Secretary-general shall convene
the conference under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted
by a majority of the States Parties present and voting at the conference shall
be submitted by the Secretary-General to all the States Parties for acceptance.

2. An amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 1 of this article shall
enter into force when two thirds of the States Parties to this Convention have
notified the Secretary-General of the United Nations that they have accepted it
in accordance with their respective constitutional processes.

3. When amendments enter into force, they shall be binding on those States
Parties which have accepted them, other States Parties still being bound by the
provisions of this Convention and any earlier amendments which they have
accepted.

Article 30

1. Any dispute between two or more States Parties concerning the
interpretation or application of this Convention which cannot be settled through
negotiation shall, at the request of one of them, be submitted to arbitration.
If within six months from the date of the request for arbitration the Parties
are unable to agree on the organization of the arbitration, any one of those
Parties may refer the dispute to the International Court of Justice by request
in conformity with the Statute of the Court.

2. Each State may, at the time of signature or ratification of this
Convention or accession thereto, declare that it does not consider itself bound
by paragraph 1 of this article. The other States Parties shall not be bound by
paragraph 1 of this article with respect to any State Party having made such a
reservation.

3. Any State Party having made a reservation in accordance with paragraph 2
of this article may at any time withdraw this reservation by notification to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Article 31

1. A State Party may denounce this Convention by written notification to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations. Denunciation becomes effective one year
after the date of receipt of- the notification by the Secretary-General.

2. Such a denunciation shall not have the effect of releasing the State
Party from its obligations under this Convention in regard to any act or
omission which occurs prior to the date at which the denunciation becomes
effective, nor shall denunciation prejudice in any way the continued
consideration of any matter which is already under consideration by the
Committee prior to the date at which the denunciation becomes effective.

3. Following the date at which the denunciation of a State Party becomes
effective, the Committee shall not commence consideration of any new matter
regarding that State.

Article 32

The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall inform all States Members
of the United Nations and all States which have signed this Convention or
acceded to it of the following:

(a) Signatures, ratifications and accessions under articles 25 and 26;

(b) The date of entry into force of this Convention under article 27 and the
date of the entry into force of any amendments under article 29;

(c) Denunciations under article 31.

Article 33

1. This Convention, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian
and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be deposited with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations.

2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit certified
copies of this Convention to all States.

^Top