Torture is the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical pain or suffering by or with the consent or acquiescence of state authorities (for example, police, military or security forces) for a specific purpose.
If acts are committed by a private person but the authorities fail to prevent and punish them, the State may be complicit or otherwise responsible for the acts.
Torture is often used to punish someone, to get information or a confession, to intimidate or is based on discrimination.
Common methods of physical torture include beating, electric shocks, stretching, submersion in water, suffocation, burns, rape and sexual assault.
Common methods of mental torture include isolation, threats, humiliation, mock executions, and witnessing the torture of others.
If you or a family member have been tortured, and you need help with problems relating to the torture, it is possible we can help.
You might be a British citizen, a British resident or an asylum seeker. We also help survivors living abroad.
Link to Success Stories
REDRESS offers its services free of charge.
Owing to limited resources and other practical considerations we cannot take up every case which comes to us, but even then we will always try to offer practical advice.
1. Seeking Justice For Torture Survivors
REDRESS provides confidential legal advice to torture survivors seeking a remedy for what happened to them, including help with locating evidence. There are a variety of remedies that might be available, depending on the circumstances, including, compensation for losses, formal Court recognition of the torture, starting a criminal investigation against the perpetrators, or some other acknowledgement of the harm.
REDRESS might help survivors directly or we might work with lawyers in the UK, or with partner organisations in the country where the torture occurred.
2. Prosecuting Torturers
We can also help to bring perpetrators of torture to justice where the alleged torturer is outside his or her home state.
3. Giving Practical Advice & Support
Where it is not feasible to proceed through the courts REDRESS tries to help in other ways. For example, we:
- Put survivors in touch with doctors and psychologists;
- Help survivors to access other specialised support services; and
Make representations to human rights bodies, governments or parliamentarians.
4. Advising Lawyers
REDRESS also provides expertise on points of law to lawyers, and national and international courts.
In order for us to consider taking a case, the survivor must be somebody who has suffered torture. For an act to be considered as torture, all of the following elements must be present:
- The act must have caused severe pain or suffering;
- It must have been inflicted by, on behalf of, with the consent of or with the acquiescence of a public official or person acting in an official capacity (such as the police or security forces);
- It must have been committed for a specific purpose, such as to elicit a confession to a crime or to instill fear, to intimidate or on the basis of discrimination.
If you fall within this category, or are a family member of someone who does and you want us to look into the case, or if you simply need advice on the possibilities available, contact us. We will need the following initial details:
- Your full name, nationality and contact details (i.e. an email address, postal address, telephone number(s))
- A brief summary of how and when the torture took place, including basic information relating to the perpetrator(s) (i.e. whether it was at the hands of the police, military, intelligence services etc.)
- A brief indication of what medical and/or other evidence is available to support your case
- If you are in the UK, your residence status (i.e. refugee, asylum seeker, UK national, person with indefinite leave to remain, EU citizen, student, etc).
- If you are not in the UK, your residence status in the country where you are at present.
The definition of Torture in the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture (CAT)
Article 1 :
“... torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, 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. [...]”.