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Despite these findings and international conventions, organizations that monitor abuses of human rights (e.g., Amnesty International, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, Freedom from Torture, etc.) report widespread use condoned by states in many regions of the world.The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which is currently in force since 26 June 1987, provides a broad definition of torture.Although torture is sanctioned by some states, it is prohibited under international law and the domestic laws of most countries.Although widely illegal and reviled there is an ongoing debate as to what exactly is and is not legally defined as torture.Torture (from the Latin tortus, "twisted") is the act of deliberately inflicting physical or psychological pain in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or compel some action from the victim.Torture, by definition, is a knowing and intentional act; deeds which unknowingly or negligently inflict pain without a specific intent to do so are not typically considered torture.It is a serious violation of human rights, and is declared to be unacceptable (but not illegal) by Article 5 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 2 of the Inter-American Convention reads: For the purposes of this Convention, torture shall be understood to be any act intentionally performed whereby physical or mental pain or suffering is inflicted on a person for purposes of criminal investigation, as a means of intimidation, as personal punishment, as a preventive measure, as a penalty, or for any other purpose.
This definition was restricted to apply only to nations and to government-sponsored torture and clearly limits the torture to that perpetrated, directly or indirectly, by those acting in an official capacity, such as government personnel, law enforcement personnel, medical personnel, military personnel, or politicians.
It appears to exclude: For the purpose of this Declaration, torture is defined as the deliberate, systematic or wanton infliction of physical or mental suffering by one or more persons acting alone or on the orders of any authority, to force another person to yield information, to make a confession, or for any other reason.
Depending on the aim, even a form of torture that is intentionally fatal may be prolonged to allow the victim to suffer as long as possible (such as half-hanging).
In other cases, the torturer may be indifferent to the condition of the victim.Torture grew into an ornate discipline, where calibrated violence served two functions: to investigate and produce confessions and to attack the body as a form of punishment.