Torture and ill-treatment

Key Elements

Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment are absolutely prohibited in any circumstances and can never be justified. To respect this prohibition, States not only have an obligation not to subject persons to torture or ill-treatment, but also positive obligation to fulfil the right to be free from torture: they must adopt a series of procedural safeguards that will prevent torture or ill-treatment and they must investigate - and prosecute when relevant - any allegations of torture or ill-treatment.

In prisons, individuals are particularly exposed to the risk of being victims of torture or ill-treatment because of the imbalance of power induced by deprivation of liberty. Detainees may be the victims of violence by prison staff or by fellow inmates, and authorities must therefore ensure their protection and human treatment throughout their detention. Conditions of detention themselves, under certain circumstances, can be considered as amounting to ill-treatment or even torture.

Certain vulnerable detainees are more exposed to the risk of being ill-treated or tortured and therefore require additional protection from the authorities. Some of them have special needs (because of their young age, disabilities, etc.) and failure to properly address those needs may lead to situations conducive to ill-treatment or torture.