To inflict on a captive person (under the torturer's control) actions of severe torment, whether physical or psychological.
Its purposes may be any of intimidation, deterrence, revenge or punishment ... or as a method for the extraction of information or confessions.
Psychological torture methods include:
* sensory overload (bright light, painfully-loud noise)
* Sleep deprivation
* Mock execution
Torture is now widely treated as an extreme violation of human rights, as formally stated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Signatories of the Third Geneva Convention and Fourth Geneva Convention agree not to torture protected persons (enemy civilians and POWs) in armed conflicts, and signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture agree not to intentionally inflict severe pain or suffering on anyone, to obtain information or a confession, to punish them, or to coerce them or a third person.
However despite such conventions and agreements organizations such as Amnesty International estimate that around two-thirds of countries do not consistently follow the spirit of such treaties.
(source: wikipedia, page with further details at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torture)
EFFECTS OF TORTURE
Torture is often difficult to prove, particularly when some time has passed between the event and a medical examination. Many torturers around the world use methods designed to have a maximum psychological impact while leaving only minimal physical traces. Medical and Human Rights Organizations worldwide have collaborated to produce the Istanbul Protocol, a document designed to outline common torture methods, consequences of torture and medico-legal examination techniques.
Physical problems can be wide-ranging, e.g. sexually transmitted
diseases, musculo-skeletal problems, brain injury, post-traumatic
epilepsy and dementia or chronic pain syndromes.
Treatment of torture-related medical problems might require a wide range of expertise and often specialized experience.