Report No. 273
(ii) Psychological Suffering
2.39 Various human rights bodies have acknowledged that no physical element is necessary to establish torture or inhuman treatment. The European Court of Human Rights found that a suspected criminal could not be extradited to the United States because of the psychological harm he would suffer if he were to be sentenced to death and held on death row.45
2.40 Actions aimed at humiliating individuals or causing psychological suffering may constitute torture or inhuman treatment, and also violate the right to human dignity.46
2.41 In Cantoral-Benavides v. Peru47, the Inter-American Commission found that 'according to international standards for protection, torture can be inflicted not only via physical violence, but also through acts that produce severe physical, psychological or moral suffering to the victim. 'In that case, the Court found that the aggressive acts suffered by the victim could be classified as physical and psychological torture, and that the acts were planned specifically for the purpose of wearing the victim down and to obtain incriminating evidence from him.
2.42 In several cases, it had been found that there had been violation of rights of the relatives of victims of disappearance in the form of the anguish caused to their family members. The State's failure to properly investigate and punish the wrongdoers for the disappearances or murders had further added to their suffering.48