Inter-American Convention to Prevent
and Punish Torture
(Adopted at Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on December 9,
the fifteenth regular session of the General Assembly)
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 Human Rights;
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 State 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
The fact of having acted under orders of a superior shall
not provide exemption from the corresponding criminal
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 1, the States
Parties shall take effective measures to prevent and punish
torture within their jurisdiction.
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
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
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 fora whose
competence has been recognized by that State.
The States Parties undertake to incorporate into their
national laws regulations guaranteeing suitable compensation
for victims of torture.
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
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; or
c. When the victim is a national of that State and it so
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 11.
This Convention does not exclude criminal jurisdiction
exercised in accordance with domestic law.
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 offence 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 requested State.
States Parties which do not make extradition conditional on
the existence of a treaty shall recognize such crimes as
extraditable offences 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.
No provision of this Convention may be interpreted as
limiting the right of asylum, when appropriate, nor as
altering the obligations of the States Parties in the matter
This Convention shall not limit the provisions of the
American Convention on Human Rights, other conventions on
the subject, or the Statutes of the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights, with respect to the crime of
The States Parties undertake to inform the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights of any legislative, judicial,
administrative, or other measures they adopt in application
of this Convention.
In keeping with its duties and responsibilities, the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will endeavor in
its annual report to analyze the existing situation in the
member states of the Organization of American States in
regard to the prevention and elimination of torture.
This Convention is open to signature by the member states of
the Organization of American States.
This Convention is subject to ratification. The instruments
of ratification shall be deposited with the General
Secretariat of the Organization of American States.
This Convention is open to accession by any other American
state. The instruments of accession shall be deposited with
the General Secretariat of the Organization of American
The States Parties may, at the time of approval, signature,
ratification, or accession, make reservations to this
Convention, provided that such reservations are not
incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention
and concern one or more specific provisions.
This Convention shall enter into force on the thirtieth day
following the date on which the second instrument of
ratification is deposited. For each State ratifying or
acceding to the Convention after the second instrument of
ratification has been deposited, the Convention shall enter
into force on the thirtieth day following the date on which
that State deposits its instrument of ratification or
This Convention shall remain in force indefinitely, but may
be denounced by any State Party. The instrument of
denunciation shall be deposited with the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States. After one year from
the date of deposit of the instrument of denunciation, this
Convention shall cease to be in effect for the denouncing
State but shall remain in force for the remaining States
The original instrument of this Convention, the English,
French, Portuguese, and Spanish texts of which are equally
authentic, shall be deposited with the General Secretariat
of the Organization of American States, which shall send a
certified copy to the Secretariat of the United Nations for
registration and publication, in accordance with the
provisions of Article 102 of the United Nations Charter. The
General Secretariat of the Organization of American States
shall notify the member states of the Organization and the
States that have acceded to the Convention of signatures and
of deposits of instruments of ratification, accession, and
denunciation, as well as reservations, if any.