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International Day of Support for Victims of Torture

Torture: a crime against humanity

Torture seeks to destroy the personality of the victim and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, torture persists in all regions of the world. Concerns about protecting national security and borders are increasingly used to authorize torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. Its pervasive consequences often go beyond the isolated act on an individual; and can be passed down from generation to generation and lead to cycles of violence.

The United Nations has condemned torture from the start as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings.

Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, this is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition is part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, whether or not a state has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.

On December 12, 1997, by resolution 52/149, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed June 26 the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

June 26 is an opportunity to call on all stakeholders, including UN member states, civil society and individuals around the world, to unite in support of the hundreds of thousands of people around the world. who were victims of torture and those who still are today.

Cure through rehabilitation

Recovering from torture requires rapid and specialized programs. The work of rehabilitation centers and organizations around the world has shown that victims can go from horror to healing. the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, administered by the United Nations Human Rights Office in Geneva is a unique, victim-focused mechanism that channels funding for assistance to victims of torture and their families. Created in 1981 with a mandate to support victims of torture and their families, the Fund is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The Fund works by channeling voluntary contributions to civil society organizations providing legal, social, humanitarian, psychological and medical services. Beneficiaries include human rights defenders, people deprived of their liberty, children and adolescents, refugees and migrants, victims of enforced disappearances, indigenous peoples, victims of sexual and gender-based violence and LGBTI people, among others. others. The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture accept donations.

To see how rehabilitation services are helping torture survivors heal, watch the United Nations Fund for Torture trailer, which features interviews with recipient organizations, survivors and administrators.

Why are we marking June 26?

The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, marks the moment in 1987 when the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, one of the key instruments of the fight against torture, has entered into force. Today, the Convention has been ratified by 162 countries.

What constitutes torture?

“[T]The term “torture” refers to any act by which severe pain or suffering, physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for the purpose of obtaining information or confession from him or a third party, punishing him for an act that he or a third party has committed or is suspected of having committed, of having intimidated or coerced a third party, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering resulting solely from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. “- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984, art. 1, para. 1)

Legal standards and instruments

In 1948, the international community condemned torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. In 1975, in response to the vigorous activity of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

During the 1980s and 1990s, progress was made both in the development of legal norms and instruments and in the implementation of the prohibition of torture. the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture was created by the General Assembly in 1981 to fund organizations providing assistance to victims of torture and their families.

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the General Assembly in 1984 and entered into force in 1987. Its implementation by States Parties is monitored by a body of independent experts, the Committee against Torture.

The first one Special Rapporteur on Torture, an independent expert mandated to report on the state of torture in the world, was appointed by the Commission on Human Rights in 1985. During the same period, the General Assembly adopted resolutions in which it underlined the role of health personnel in the protection of detainees and detainees against torture and established general principles for the treatment of detained persons. In December 1997, the General Assembly proclaimed June 26 the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The United Nations has repeatedly recognized the important role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the fight against torture. In addition to pushing for the establishment of United Nations monitoring instruments and mechanisms, they have made a valuable contribution to their implementation. Individual experts, including the Special Rapporteur on torture and Special Rapporteur on violence against women, and treaty bodies such as the Committee Against Torture rely heavily on information brought to their attention by NGOs and individuals.

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