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degrading treatment or punishment


Treatment that humiliates or debases an individual, showing a lack of respect for, or diminishing, their human dignity, or when it arouses feelings of fear, anguish or inferiority capable of breaking an individual’s moral and physical resistance.



  • BG: Унизително отношение или наказание
  • CS: ponižující zacházení nebo trestání
  • DE: erniedrigende Behandlung oder Bestrafung
  • EL: ταπεινωτική μεταχείριση ή τιμωρία
  • EN: degrading treatment or punishment
  • ES: Pena o trato degradante
  • ET: alandav kohtlemine või karistamine
  • FI: alentava kohtelu tai rangaistus
  • FR: peine ou traitement dégradant
  • GA: íde nó píonós táireach
  • HU: megalázó bánásmód vagy büntetés
  • IT: Trattamento o pena degradante
  • LT: žeminantis orumą elgesys arba baudimas
  • LV: pazemojoša rīcība vai sodīšana
  • MT: trattament jew piena degradanti
  • NL: vernederende behandeling of bestraffing / onterende behandeling of bestraffing
  • PL: poniżające traktowanie lub karanie
  • PT: tratamento ou pena degradantes
  • SK: ponižujúce zaobchádzanie alebo trestanie
  • SL: ponižujoče ravnanje ali kazen
  • SV: förnedrande behandling eller bestraffning
  • NO: nedverdigende behandling eller straff (b); nedverdigande handsaming eller straff (n)

Broader Term(s)

Related Term(s)


1. Prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is recognised as a right of paramount significance under international human rights law and set out in all major international instruments dealing with civil and political rights, such as in Art. 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) . The prohibition, contained in Art. 3 of the ECHR is the only Convention prohibition that is not subject to any limitations or derogations.
2. While the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) provides a definition of torture, there is no universally accepted definition of inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The case law of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) provides at least a source of guidance even though the decision practice of the Court has changed over the time. On the basis of the degree of severity of ill-treatment the Court distinguished and defined three concepts prohibited by Art. 3: (i) torture, (ii) inhuman treatment or punishment and (iii) degrading treatment or punishment. Further, the Court emphasized in the Selmouni vs. France judgement of 28 July 1999 that the hierarchy distinguishing the three categories of ill-treatment is fluid in nature and has to be assessed in harmony with societal pogress.
3. The definition used is taken from the most recent reference to the term in ECtHR case law. The first definitions of the term were established in case law from the 1960s - e.g. Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands v. Greece, 1969. For more information, see the Association for the Prevention of Torture: Guide to Jurisprudence on Torture and Ill-treatment, 2002.
4. The suffering and humiliation involved must in any event go beyond the inevitable element of suffering or humiliation resulting from legitimate treatment or punishment (Soering vs United Kingdom, para. 100).