What is Torture?
any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. (the full text of the Convention can be found here.)
Torture is not merely used to extract information from an unwilling person. The ultimate goal of torture and organised violence is to institute and reinforce social and political control. This is achieved by attempting to destroy the capacity of the tortured person to function normally and to sustain control over his or her life.
The Impact of Torture
Refugees and other survivors of torture experience the impact of torture in many different ways. It has a profound, immediate and long-term impact on physical and psychological health.
Torture Survivors in Australia
Since the end of World War II, survivors of torture and trauma have migrated to Australia through the refugee, humanitarian and general immigration programs, fleeing conflicts in the Asia Pacific region, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. Between 1951 and 2006 more than 675,000 refugee and humanitarian program entrants, including their families, have settled in Australia.