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No government may forcibly return refugees to a territory where they may face danger, including the risk of being tortured. Many of those claiming asylum have already survived earlier torture experiences in the countries they wish to escape. Refugees surviving systematic physical and mental torture face additional difficulties in building new lives for themselves.

“Freedom from torture is a universal and fundamental human right for all, as guaranteed under international law and defined in the United Nations Convention against Torture. Despite this, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture receives reports on acts of torture from more than 60 countries every year. Other sources indicate that government-sanctioned torture is committed in more than 130 countries worldwide. Torture is indeed a global problem.”

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) 2003.

“..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.”

Article 1(1) Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 1987

This resource page highlights a number of key online information sources relating to torture, organized under the following headings: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, International Conventions, and Investigation and Reporting of Torture. It also features a selection of full-text documents, web-based resources, and descriptions of relevant organizations available through FMO that focus on torture-related issues.

On 12 December 1997, the United Nations General Assembly officially proclaimed 26 June as the UN international day in Support of Victims of torture (UNGA Resolution 52/149)


International Conventions

For further relevant instruments, see:

Investigation and Reporting of Torture

FMO Resources

See the FMO thematic resource page on ‘Country information resources’ and the ‘Human Rights Surveys’ section of the ‘International Day of Human Rights’ resource page.


Selected full-text documents (for more, search in the Digital Library)

Web Resources

Selected web-based information resources (for more, search the FMO website)


Relevant Organizations

Contact details for relevant organizations (for more, search in the Organizations Directory)

For further related listings, see:

creative commons logo (CC) BY-NC-ND This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

Artwork illustrating Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Artwork illustrating Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, by Brazilian artist Octavio Roth.
© Octavio Roth, UN Photos

Last updated Sep 06, 2011