Torture refers to physical coercion by state officials or their agents in order to generate evidence usable at trial. In addition to its evidence-producing function (that often does not produce reliable evidence or useful intelligence information), torture includes the deliberate infliction by government officials of physical and mental suffering to extract information unrelated to court proceedings. Resort to torture in the 20th century (and now the 21st) has typically been actuated by the second of these functions. This entry sketches the history of torture in Western society before turning to its modern-day manifestations and their relevance to military personnel.

Torture in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds

Until the time of the Roman Empire, neither the Greeks nor the Romans allowed the torture of free men; instead, ...

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