Who are the perpetrators?
As is emphasised in the section describing what is torture, it is necessary that the behaviour in question be carried out by, or with the approval of, a representative of the authority in power. This means that any state official could potentially be involved in torture or ill-treatment. However, considering the common purposes of torture, which may be to obtain information during an interrogation , or, increasingly, to intimidate the population as a whole in the face of insurrection or disturbance, it is unsurprising that the principal perpetrators are those officials involved in the criminal investigation process, and those responsible for the security of the state.
This means that those most likely to be involved in torture and other forms of ill-treatment include :
Paramilitary forces acting in connection with official forces
But could also include :
Death squads (torture following disappearance and preceding killing)
Any Government official
Health professionals - doctors , psychiatrists or nurses may participate in torture either by act (direct involvement which may include certifying someone fit for interrogation ) or by omission (falsifying medical reports or failure to give appropriate treatment)
Co-detainees acting with the approval or on the orders of public officials
Who are the victims?
Anybody can be a victim of torture - man or woman , young or old, religious or atheist, intellectual or farmer. Very often the determining factor may be membership of a particular political, religious, or ethnic group or minority . However, no-one should be considered immune.
The identity of the victim is important because:
Specific groups, such as children , women , the elderly , or religious persons , may be more vulnerable to the effects of ill-treatment, making it easier to consider that the degree of suffering is severe enough to amount to torture.
Where is torture most likely to occur?
While the majority of such places will be familiar to those in the local area and are official places of detention, it is fairly common for other, unacknowledged places of detention to exist also. These could range from installations which are regularly used for such purposes, (e.g. a disused factory or Government buildings), to those which are used in a particular case because they are convenient on that occasion. (e.g. a school building used as a holding area, or even open land).
Remember that torture does not have to be confined to a place of detention and may occur in the victim's own home or during transportation to an official place of detention.
When is torture most likely to occur?
The greatest risk of torture and other forms of ill-treatment to individuals is in the first phase of arrest and detention, before they have access to a lawyer or court. This risk persists as long as the investigation lasts, irrespective of where a suspect is being held.
Incommunicado detention (i.e. detaining somebody either without acknowledgement or without allowing them access to anyone, such as their lawyer or family) is probably the single highest risk factor for torture because it means that there is no external