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Torture is an aggravated and deliberate form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment to which a special stigma is attached.

According to relevant international instruments, such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, torture is understood as:

  • an intentional act
  • that inflicts severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental;
  • for such purposes as obtaining from the person subjected to torture or from a third person information or a confession, punishing the former for an act he or she or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or her or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.

While this convention further requires that the act of torture be inflicted by or at the instigation of a public agent, QD makes it clear that the agents of serious harm may also be non-state actors (see the section ‘Actors of persecution or serious harm’). No exception is made with regard to Article 15(b) QD.