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UN members adopt draft of treaty to ban torture

UN member nations have unanimously adopted a draft treaty banning torture. Under a last-minute compromise, signatories will not have to recognize an oversight committee's right to conduct investigations. Many of the countries that approved the plan Wednesday have been accused of mistreating political prisoners.

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The treaty defines torture as ''any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person'' to obtain a confession, for punishment or intimidation, ''when such pain and suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.''

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