Freedom from Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment


The right to freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment is a fundamental human right protected by several international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

The key elements of this right include:

  • Prohibition of Torture

Torture refers to the intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering by a public official or with their consent or acquiescence, aiming to obtain information, punish, intimidate, or coerce someone. The absolute prohibition of torture is a cornerstone of international human rights law.

  • Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CIDT)

This broader category covers acts or treatment that fall short of meeting the threshold of torture but still cause significant suffering or humiliation to individuals. It includes actions that may not cause severe pain but are still degrading or inhuman.

  • Absolute Prohibition

There are no circumstances or emergencies that justify the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. States have an obligation to prevent such acts, investigate allegations of torture or CIDT, and hold perpetrators accountable.

  • Non-refoulement

This principle prohibits the expulsion, return, or extradition of individuals to countries where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be at risk of torture or CIDT.

  • Effective Remedies and Rehabilitation

Individuals who have been subjected to torture or CIDT have the right to redress and compensation. States are also obliged to provide access to rehabilitation services for victims.

The ICCPR in its Article 7 explicitly prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. The Convention against Torture (CAT) is a specialized treaty that provides a comprehensive framework for preventing and punishing torture and CIDT. It establishes obligations for states parties to prevent, investigate, and prosecute cases of torture, as well as to provide redress and rehabilitation to victims.

These rights are considered non-derogable, meaning they cannot be suspended or limited even in times of public emergency or war. The prohibition of torture and CIDT represents a fundamental principle of customary international law and constitutes a peremptory norm from which no derogation is permitted under any circumstances.

Constitution of Pakistan

The Constitution of Pakistan explicitly addresses the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Under Article 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan, it states:

“The dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable. No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.”

This provision safeguards the dignity of individuals and explicitly prohibits the use of torture for obtaining evidence or any other purpose.

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