United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Right to Rehabilitation: IRCT statement on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Today marks the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Every year, on 26 June, people from around the world come together to remember those who have been tortured, by calling for the prevention of torture and an end to impunity. We hold fast to our vision of a world without torture. This year we come together to remind victims that they have not been forgotten and that the world’s governments need to deliver on their right to rehabilitation.
Twenty eight years ago today the UN Convention against Torture came into effect and banned torture and ill treatment. Even though the vast majority of states have promised not to torture or ill treat people under international law, this continues in 141 countries. The promises of almost three decades ago rings hollow with those that can never feel safe in countries in three quarters of the world. Torture and ill-treatment affects entire communities – wreaking damage far beyond the direct victims.
Some victims of torture get the help they need and deserve from rehabilitation centres. Rehabilitation centres across the globe are havens for victims, providing support and expertise to help victims reclaim their lives and rebuild relationships with their families and communities. However, many rehabilitation centres work in challenging conditions, with scant resources and uncertain futures. They cannot continue to do this vital work alone.
More needs to be done to support victims
This 26 June, we come together to listen to survivors and their caregivers. We come together to put a human face to those who survive torture and those who help them to rehabilitate. It is time to stand in solidarity and demand their voices be heard and their need for rehabilitation be met.
Under the theme R2R – Right to Rehabilitation Now! our demands are clear – as long as the practice of torture continues, people and communities are entitled to full reparation and this includes the right to rehabilitation. Together, we call on states to meet their obligations to victims, as set out in international law almost three decades ago and further detailed in General Comment No.3 by the Committee against Torture.
There is hope and a growing global movement
Torture victims have a right to rehabilitation. Today, with thousands of others around the world, we call on states to make the right to rehabilitation a reality. We call on states to provide the resources to ensure that victims have access to appropriate rehabilitation services.
We stand united with many others and join forces to support victims of torture. Our demands are clear, on 26 June and every other day of the year. We all seek a world without torture and until that day comes we must continue to demand that torture victims get the rehabilitation they need and have a right to.
It’s time for action to end torture
26 June 2015
As the world marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June, unbearable suffering continues to be inflicted on people, in complete violation of international law.
Torture is an affront to humanity, which brings suffering not just to the immediate victims of ill-treatment but also on their families, who can be damaged and destroyed. Illegal, immoral, or inhumane treatment is never the right choice.
Whole communities are impacted by the corrosive effects that torture has on a society, especially where it goes unpunished. Abuses generate hatred and trigger cycles of revenge.
It shames our societies that torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment remain widespread. No country is entirely immune from this phenomenon, in one form or another.
Despite its absolute prohibition under international law and the efforts made to end torture by the international community, including humanitarian organizations, we are still a long way from preventing it.
The ICRC works to prevent torture by being present in places of detention. In 2014, we visited more than 800,000 detainees in 92 countries, significant numbers of whom are at risk of torture. We engage in confidential dialogue with authorities to improve detainees’ living conditions, their treatment and the respect for judicial guarantees. We also advocate for the granting of international protection to victims of torture who are forced to flee their countries and to prevent forced returns to countries where people would be at risk of torture.
The ICRC welcomes the fact that 158 of the world’s States have signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture. But there is still a lot of work to do towards the implementation of such measures. Unless its provisions are translated into national legislation and practice, they will remain of purely symbolic value.
States need to prosecute and punish those who torture. They must also put in place concrete provisions for remedies and reparations to those who have suffered from torture and ill-treatment, and take practical measures to support their physical, psychological and social rehabilitation.
For the sake of all torture victims, both those with power and influence and those who are carrying out these acts on the ground need to help put an end to torture once and for all.
Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.