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Torture as an instrument of the state to punish or extract information from individuals has a long history. In the West, the practice can be traced to the Romans, who codified the use of torture in their criminal law, believing that the torture of certain classes of society (notably, slaves) was necessary in order to ensure that they spoke the truth. During the late Middle Ages, the church in Europe banned ordeals (such as trials by fire or water) and replaced them with an inquisitional system that evaluated evidence, including written documents and confessions—the latter extracted through torture. During the 19th century, European states gradually replaced their symbols of torture with an apparatus of scientific criminology, including the police, courts, and prisons. In the modern ...

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