Inter-American Convention to
Prevent and Punish Torture (1985)
The American States signatory to the present Convention,
Aware of the provision of the American Convention on Human
Rights that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel,
inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment;
Reaffirming that all acts of torture or any other cruel, inhuman,
or degrading treatment or punishment constitute an offense against
human dignity and a denial of the principles set forth in the
Charter of the Organization of American States and in the Charter
of the United Nations and are violations of the fundamental human
rights and freedoms proclaimed in the American Declaration of
the Rights and Duties of Man and the Universal Declaration of
Noting that, in order for the pertinent rules contained in
the aforementioned global and regional instruments to take effect,
it is necessary to draft an Inter-American Convention that prevents
and punishes torture;
Reaffirming their purpose of consolidating in this hemisphere
the conditions that make for recognition of and respect for the
inherent dignity of man, and ensure the full exercise of his fundamental
rights and freedoms,
Have agreed upon the following:
The States Parties undertake to prevent and punish torture
in accordance with the terms of this Convention.
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.
Torture shall also be understood to be the use of methods upon
a person intended to obliterate the personality of the victim
or to diminish his physical or mental capacities, even if they
do not cause physical pain or mental anguish.
The concept of torture shall not include physical or mental
pain or suffering that is inherent in or solely the consequence
of lawful measures, provided that they do not include the performance
of the acts or use of the methods referred to in this article.
The following shall be held guilty of the crime of torture:
a. A public servant or employee who acting in that capacity
orders, instigates, or induces the use of torture, or who directly
commits it or who, being able to prevent it, fails to do so.
b. A person who at the instigation of a public servant or
employee mentioned in subparagraph (a) orders, instigates or induces
the use of torture, directly commits it, or is an accomplice thereto.
The fact of having acted under orders of a superior shall
not provide exemption from the corresponding criminal liability.
The existence of circumstances such as a state of war, threat
of war, state of siege or of emergency, domestic disturbance or
strife, suspension of constitutional guarantees, domestic political
instability, or other public emergencies or disasters shall not
be invoked or admitted as justification for the crime of torture.
Neither the dangerous character of the detainee or prisoner,
nor the lack of security of the prison establishment or penitentiary
shall justify torture.
In accordance with the terms of Article ', the States Parties
shall take effective measures to prevent and punish torture within
The States Parties shall ensure that all acts of torture and
attempts to commit torture are offenses under their criminal law
and shall make such acts punishable by severe penalties that take
into account their serious nature.
The States Parties likewise shall take effective measures
to prevent and punish other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment
or punishment within their jurisdiction.
The States Parties shall take measures so that, in the training
of police officers and other public officials responsible for
the custody of persons temporarily or definitively deprived of
their freedom, special emphasis shall be put on the prohibition
of the use of torture in interrogation, detention, or arrest.
The States Parties likewise shall take similar measures to
prevent other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.
The States Parties shall guarantee that any person making
an accusation of having been subjected to torture within their
jurisdiction shall have the right to an impartial examination
of his case.
Likewise, if there is an accusation or well-grounded reason
to believe that an act of torture has been committed within their
jurisdiction, the States Parties shall guarantee that their respective
authorities will proceed properly and immediately to conduct an
investigation into the case and to initiate, whenever appropriate,
the corresponding criminal process.
After all the domestic legal procedures of the respective
State and the corresponding appeals have been exhausted, the case
may be submitted to the international fore whose competence has
been recognized by that State.
The States Parties undertake to incorporate into their national
laws regulations guaranteeing suitable compensation for victims
None of the provisions of this article shall affect the right
to receive compensation that the victim or other persons may have
by virtue of existing national legislation.
No statement that is verified as having been obtained through
torture shall be admissible as evidence in a legal proceeding,
except in a legal action taken against a person or persons accused
of having elicited it through acts of torture, and only as evidence
that the accused obtained such statement by such means.
The States Parties shall take the necessary steps to extradite
anyone accused of having committed the crime of torture or sentenced
for commission of that crime, in accordance with their respective
national laws on extradition and their international commitments
on this matter.
Every State Party shall take the necessary measures to establish
its jurisdiction over the crime described in this Convention in
the following cases:
a. When torture has been committed within its jurisdiction;
b. When the alleged criminal is a national of that State;
c. When the victim is a national of that State and it so deems
Every State Party shall also take the necessary measures to
establish its jurisdiction over the crime described in this Convention
when the alleged criminal is within the area under its jurisdiction
and it is not appropriate to extradite him in accordance with
Article ~ '.
This Convention does not exclude criminal jurisdiction exercised
in accordance with domestic law.
ARTICLE 1 3
The crime referred to in Article 2 shall be deemed to be included
among the extraditable crimes in every extradition treaty entered
into between States Parties. The States Parties undertake to include
the crime of torture as an extraditable offense in every extradition
treaty to be concluded between them.
Every State Party that makes extradition conditional on the
existence of a treaty may, if it receives a request for extradition
from another State Party with which it has no extradition treaty,
consider this Convention as the legal basis for extradition in
respect of the crime of torture. Extradition shall' be subject
to the other conditions that may be required by the law of the
States Parties which do not make extradition conditional on
the existence of a treaty shall recognize such crimes as extraditable
offenses between themselves, subject to the conditions required
by the law of the requested State.
Extradition shall not be granted nor shall the person sought
be returned when there are grounds to believe that his life is
in danger, that he will be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman
or degrading treatment, or that he will be tried by special or
ad hoc courts in the requesting State.
When a State Party does not grant the extradition, the case
shall be submitted to its competent authorities as if the crime
had been committed within its jurisdiction, for the purposes of
investigation, and when appropriate, for criminal action, in accordance
with its national law. Any decision adopted by these authorities
shall be communicated to the State that has requested the extradition.
ARTICLE 1 5
No provision of this Convention may be interpreted as limiting
the right to asylum, when appropriate, nor as altering the obligations
of the States Parties in the matter of extradition....