Torture (U.S. Code)

“torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;


  1. § 2340. Definitions
  2. § 2340A. Torture
  3. § 2340B. Exclusive remedies

18 U.S. Code § 2340 - Definitions

As used in this chapter—

  1. torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
  2. severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—
    1. the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
    2. the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
    3. the threat of imminent death; or
    4. the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and
  3. United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

18 U.S. Code § 2340A - Torture

  1. Offense.—Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.
  2. Jurisdiction.—There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—
    1. the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
    2. the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.
  3. Conspiracy.—A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.

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