“The term ‘torture’ shall be understood to mean any act by which a person is intentionally inflicted serious pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, in order to obtain information or a confession from him or a third party, to punish him for an act that he has committed, or is suspected of having committed, or to intimidate or coerce that person or others, or for any reason based on any type of discrimination, when said pain or suffering is inflicted by a public official or another person in the exercise of public functions, at their instigation, or with their consent or acquiescence. Pain or suffering that is solely the consequence of legitimate sanctions, or that is inherent or incidental to them, shall not be considered torture”(on the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is one of the main international human rights treaties against torture. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1984, and entered into force on June 26, 1987, when the necessary number of ratifications had been reached. In 1997, the General Assembly of the United Nations decided to commemorate that fact when it proclaimed each June 26 as the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture, with the sole purpose of the total eradication of torture, considered by the UN as “a crime in international law. It is absolutely prohibited in all international instruments and cannot be justified under any circumstances”.

In addition to these actions, the United Nations created a committee of independent experts, called the Committee against Torture, responsible for monitoring the application of the Convention by the States Parties. Today, the Convention has been ratified by 162 countries. In addition, in 1985 the UN Commission on Human Rights appointed the first Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, an independent expert entrusted with the mission of reporting on the situation of torture in the world.