In 1974, during the Vietnam war, Hélène Engel and Edith du Tertre, two Protestant women, decided to speak out against torture by calling Christians to witness: "Christians must take action against torture wherever it occurs, and they must take action together," they said. Thus, they founded ACAT: an NGO that brings together Christians of all denominations, as well as those who are committed to the hope of a world without torture or the death penalty.

ACAT-France defends all victims of torture and abuse, whether they are prisoners of conscience or ordinary prisoners, whether or not they have committed reprehensible acts.
This is because torture should be absolutely forbidden, for it seeks to annihilate man and his dignity. ACAT-France makes no ideological, ethnic or religious distinctions.
ACAT-France relies on a vast network of members, local groups, activists, donors and sympathizers throughout the country.

It acts in several ways: by investigating and documenting cases of human rights violations, by proposing recommendations based on analyses, by welcoming asylum seekers to help them prepare their applications, by carrying out advocacy actions directed at public authorities, and by mobilizing its network through awareness-raising activities.