IRRC No. 189

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Torture

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In recent years, public opinion throughout the world has been increasingly disturbed by a problem which also seems to be on the increase—that of torture. The experience of the ICRC has led to the conviction that the concern is justified and that the subject is an exceedingly grave one. Repeated and even systematic resort to torture, whether on orders from or with the tacit approval of the authorities, whether by violence or by psychological or chemical means, is a cancer which seems to be spreading, threatening the body of our civilization. Of all weapons, torture is probably the most cruel and the most harmful. Its cruelty needs no proof; the injury it does results not only from what it does to the victim, who is often forced to violate his conscience and betray his loved ones, but also to the torturers themselves and to their superiors, and finally to the whole of the country in which torture is practiced.

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