Child victims of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Dan O┬┤Donnell and Norberto Liwski

This paper addresses the legal framework and medical and psychological impacts of torture on children. Part One, Legal Framework, begins by showing the three characteristics that legally distinguish torture from child abuse, by definition: Torture is committed by an agent of the state or someone acting with the encouragement or acquiescence of the state. Torture is committed for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession; to intimidate, coerce or punish the immediate victim or a third person; or as part of discrimination. Torture must cause severe pain or suffering. Because of these differences, torture should be treated differently to child abuse, in particular with regard to law enforcement. The fact that torture is committed by a representative of the state justifies a stronger response. That it involves severe pain or suffering is another reason that the response must be proportionate.

Key wordschildren / torture / transitional justice