Cesare Beccaria‘s reasoned argument against torture in 1764:
A cruelty consecrated among most nations by custom is the torture of the accused during his trial, on the pretext of compelling him to confess his crime, of clearing up contradictions in his statements, of discovering his accomplices, of purging him in some metaphysical and incomprehensible way from infamy, or finally of finding out other crimes of which he may possibly be guilty, but of which he is not accused.
A man cannot be called guilty before sentence has been passed on him by a judge, nor can society deprive him of its protection till it has been decided that he has broken the condition on which it was granted. What, then, is that right but one of mere might by which a judge is empowered to inflict a punishment on a citizen whilst his guilt or innocence are still undetermined?
The following dilemma is no new one; either the crime is certain or uncertain; if certain, no other punishment is suitable for it than that affixed to it by law; and torture is useless. If it is uncertain, it is wrong to torture an innocent person, such as the law adjudges him to be, whose crimes are not yet proved.
Statists [Nationalists, Conservatives, Authoritarians – any political form that elevates the state above the individual] will argue that non-citizens are outside of the dilemma, an exception if you will, except that the just relationship between individual and state disqualifies tyranny, arbitrary governance and exceptions. This makes it impossible to justify the torture of any individual in a liberal democratic system.