Brief Fact Summary. A suit against Pena-Irala (D) on the premise that he had tortured to death the decedent of Filartiga (P), was filed by Filartiga (P).
Synopsis of Rule of Law. For purpose of the Allen Tort Statute, torture may be considered to violate law of nations.
Torture, in turn, is defined as any act by which severe pain and suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted by or at the instigation of a public official on a person for such purposes as intimidating him or other persons.View Full Point of Law
Issue. For purpose of the Allen Tort Statute, may torture be considered as a violation of the law of nations?
Held. (Judge not stated in casebook excerpt). Yes. For purpose of the Allen Tort Statute, torture may be considered to violate law of nations. The prohibition against torture has become part of customary international law. Various United Nations declarations such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1975 Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Torture further portrays the fact that prohibition against torture has become part of customary international law. Torture has been officially renounced in the vast majority of nations and this is the reason why this court concluded that torture violates the law of nations.
Discussion. It is not new for many members of the United Nations to make pronouncements and not be pronouncements into action. It is no secret that torture is still widely practiced if not by a majority of countries then in a significant manner. Actual practice, and not U.N. declarations have been argued by commentators as what constitute international law.