Torture can occur anywhere but usually occurs during the initial phase of arrest and detention, thus often in the hands of police, gendarmerie, military or other security agencies and may be in official places of detention such as police stations, or in unofficial (or ‘secret’) locations. The fact that torture may not just be confined to places of detention is recognized in the Statute of the International Criminal Court, which states that it may occur when a person is “in the custody or control” or a party. Torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment can also occur in the hands of opposition forces and informal militias. There is a duty on the state to protect people from these groups and to investigate and punish as necessary.
Torture is not just limited to what happens in the interrogation room, but may also relate to specific elements of the conditions of detention which are constructed to deliberately aggravate mental and physical suffering. Often the generally harsh conditions of detention (including inadequate or insufficient food, hygiene, personal cleanliness, access to toilets, and access to medical care) are aimed at exerting further pressure on individuals and contribute to and form part of ill-treatment that may in some cases constitute torture.