Torture is any act by which severe pain, whether physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted on a person as a means of intimidation, a deterrent, revenge, a punishment, or as a method for the extraction of information or confessions.
- Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children. And if you don’t help us, who else in the world can help us do this?
- Albert Camus, at the Dominican Monastery of Latour-Maubourg (1948); reported in Resistance, Rebellion and Death (translation by Justin O'Brien, 1961), p. 73.
- I want to make sure that if my government ever does this horrible, terrible, extraordinary thing, that somebody takes responsibility for it and that it be out there in the open and subject to accountability. ... Though I understand the danger of legitimating something that should not be legitimated, on balance in a democracy, I prefer accountability.
- I mentioned to one of the gaolers my sense of this hardship, as an obstinate guilty person might deny the truth, whilst an innocent one, less courageous, might very readily, to relieve himself from such a state of misery, make a false confession. His answer was laconic: "Lago confess" ... "They soon confess."
- Torture is senseless violence, born in fear... torture costs human lives but does not save them. We would almost be too lucky if these crimes were the work of savages: the truth is that torture makes torturers.
- Jean-Paul Sartre, "A Victory" (1958)
- The one thing we know about torture is that it was never designed in the first place to get at the actual truth of anything; it was designed in the darkest days of human history to produce false confessions in order to annihilate political and religious dissidents. And that is how it always works: it gets confessions regardless of their accuracy.
- The strong will resist and the weak will say anything to end the pain.
- Know that there are five degrees of torture, videlicit, first, the torture of being threatened to be tortured; secondly, the torture of being conveyed to the place of torture; thirdly, the torture of being, and bound for torture; fourthly, the torture of being hoisted on the torturing rack; and fifthly, and lastly, the torture of squassation.
- Julius Clarus, quoted by Philip Limborch, a preacher and annotator, in his History of the Inquisition
- [It] has never been a reliable means of extracting information. It is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control. One wonders why it is still practiced.
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