In many countries torture is used as a judicial instrument for extracting evidence and confessions from the accused. Individuals may inflict pain on other individuals for reasons of pleasure or vengeance. Individual torture includes acts of juvenile delinquency, such as the terrorizing and beating up of old or infirm people by gangs or individuals, or, for instance, the burning or humiliation of other young people who are not members of the group. Torture may be inflicted by sadists in an advanced state of mental disorder, or by 'protection' gangs and other organized crime units. Mental torture and less sophisticated means of physical torture may be practised within families or within a group of friends; this kind of torture may have a sexual basis. Individual torture may also be entered into under the effect of hallucinogenic drugs.
Although torture was already explicitly prohibited in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, there is now a world-wide legal conviction that the prohibition of torture belongs to the rule of jus cogens, binding for each and every member of the international community, and that this prohibition is unconditional. Torture cannot be justified under any circumstances. But this general outlawry of torture has evidently not been sufficient to do away with this ignominious practice.
Dr. Manfred Novak, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, stated in 2014 that “torture in China is still wide-spread” and groups including Uyghurs and Tibetans “have been targets of torture”. A U.N. statement later said that over the years Chinese authorities have used electric shock batons, whips, hoods or blindfolds, needles and hot oil to torture prisoners alongside other forms of torture, such as sleep deprivation, water submersion and bodily mutilation.