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These exact words were first used in the English Bill of Rights in 1689, and later were also adopted by the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution (1787) and the British Slavery Amelioration Act (1798).
Very similar words ('No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment') appear in Article Five of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (A/RES/217, December 10, 1948). The right, under a different formulation ('No one shall be subjected to [...] inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.') is found in Article Three of the European Convention on Human Rights (1950). The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982) also contains this fundamental right in section 12 and it is to be found again in Article Four (quoting the European Convention verbatim) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (2000). It is also found in Article 16 of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and in the Article 40 of the Constitution of Poland.
For most of recorded history, capital punishments were often deliberately painful. Severe historical penalties include the breaking wheel, boiling to death, flaying, disembowelment, crucifixion, impalement, crushing, stoning, execution by burning, dismemberment, sawing, scaphism, or necklacing.
Impalement was a method of torture and execution whereby a person is pierced with a long stake. The penetration can be through the sides, from the rectum, or through the mouth. This method would lead to a slow and painful death. Often, the victim was hoisted into the air after partial impalement. Gravity and the victim's own struggles would cause him to slide down the pole, especially if the pole were on a wagon carrying war prizes and prisoners. Death could take many days. Impalement was frequently practiced in Asia and Europe throughout the Middle Ages. Vlad III the Impaler, who learned the method of killing by impalement while staying in Constantinople as a prisoner, and Ivan the Terrible have passed into legend as major users of the method.
The breaking wheel was a torturous capital punishment device used in the Middle Ages and early modern times for public execution by cudgeling to death, especially in France and Germany. In France the condemned were placed on a cart-wheel with their limbs stretched out along the spokes over two sturdy wooden beams. The wheel was made to revolve slowly. Through the openings between the spokes, the executioner hit the victim with an iron hammer that could easily break the victim's bones. This process was repeated several times per limb. Once his bones were broken, he was left on the wheel to die. It could take hours, even days, before shock and dehydration caused death. The punishment was abolished in Germany as late as 1827.
- Capital punishment
- Security of person - an expanded right against less lethal conduct.
- Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution
- Section Twelve of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
- Prison rape, Rape and punishment
- Cases in 2003
- Cases in 2002
- Cases in 2001
- Cases in 2000
- American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (Approved by the Ninth International Conference of American States, Bogotá, Colombia, 1948)