What is torture?
Torture involves the intentional infliction of severe mental or physical suffering by a public official – who may be either directly or indirectly involved – on a defenceless person, often during interrogation or in detention (article 1 of the UN Convention against Torture). It is a severe violation of human rights, which is prohibited, under all circumstances, by international law.
Making a difference
The UN Human Rights Office, through its Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, supports NGOs, rehabilitation centres, victims' associations, hospitals and legal clinics that provide direct humanitarian, medical, psychological, legal, social and financial assistance to help victims recover and secure redress and rehabilitation for the harm that has been done.
Since its establishment by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981, the Fund has awarded grants to more than 600 organizations assisting over 50,000 victims worldwide every year. In 2014 over USD7 million were awarded to assist victims in 80 countries.
The video below provides an example of our work in the context of the Syria crisis.
Watch the full video
How you can help
Victims of torture need your support. Please consider donating today!
Your donation will provide essential and life-saving direct assistance to victims through the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
For more information on torture see:
Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Message by the Secretary-General (
UN human rights experts call for a torture-free world
Committee against Torture
Optional Protocol and the Sub-Committee on Prevention
Special Rapporteur on Torture
Torture in Syria: Open Wounds Report