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Migration and Home Affairs


  • Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from them or a third person information or a confession, punishing them for an act they or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing them 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.
  • In the context of the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering.



  • BG: изтезания
  • CS: mučení
  • DE: Folter
  • EL: βασανιστήρια
  • EN: torture
  • ES: tortura
  • ET: piinamine
  • FI: kidutus
  • FR: torture
  • GA: céasadh
  • HU: kínzás
  • IT: tortura
  • LT: kankinimas
  • LV: spīdzināšana
  • MT: Tortura
  • NL: foltering
  • PL: tortury
  • PT: tortura
  • RO: tortură
  • SK: mučenie
  • SL: mučenje
  • SV: tortyr
  • NO: tortur
  • KA: წამება
  • UK: катування

Related Term(s)


1. The term does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. The right to freedom from torture is enshrined in many international treaties, most notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT). The acceptance that torture is forbidden under any circumstances, including war, public emergency or terrorist threat, indicates that universally it is considered as a fundamental principle of customary international law. This means that even States that have not ratified any of the international treaties explicitly prohibiting torture are banned from using it against anyone, anywhere, under any circumstances.
3. Regional conventions, such as the European Convention on Human Rights (Art. 3) and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Art. 4), also recognise torture as a prohibited act.
4. Both the UNCAT and the Geneva Refugee Convention and Protocol expressly prohibit the forced return of an asylum seeker to a country where they may be at risk of torture.
5. In the EU, Art. 21 of Directive 2013/33/EU (Recast Receptions Conditions Directive) explicitly considers the situation of vulnerable asylum seekers with special needs, including victims of torture. EU Member States are obliged to identify victims of torture within the asylum procedure and to assess whether they have special reception needs, including the need to access appropriate medical and psychological treatment or care.