International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
The 26th of June marks the International Day in Support
of Victims of Torture, a global observance announced by the
United Nations General Assembly following its adoption of the
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Resolution 39/46).
To live a life free from torture and inhumane or degrading
treatment is an absolute right. Consequently, committing such
an act has no justification, under any circumstance. Furthermore,
as the prohibition of torture is explicit under Customary
International Law, its prohibition applies to every member of the
international community, regardless of whether a state has ratified
or acceded to international instruments that explicitly prohibit
Evident in International Humanitarian Law, torture and other
inhumane treatment constitutes a grave violation under the
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their additional protocols.
Moreover, according to the Rome Statue of the International
Criminal Court, torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment is defined as war crimes
under Article 8, and as crimes against humanity under Article 7.
Striped of their dignity and right to live a full life free from abuse, victims of torture are overwhelmed with frustration, anxiety, depression and often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Recovery from such a traumatic experience requires specialized programs that aim to restore the health and independence of victims of torture and thus providing sustainable rehabilitating services.
Torture is a crime against humanity. As perfectly described by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: “It is a malicious attempt to break the will of the person. On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, I urge all countries to put an end to the impunity of perpetrators of torture and to eliminate these abominable acts that challenge our humanity.”
The Geneva Institute for Human Rights is an organisation founded on the principles of human rights, such as dignity, respect and equality. Hence the Institute takes this day as an opportunity to shed light on the appalling torture practices around the world and to reaffirm its commitment towards the absolute prohibition of torture. Moreover, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights reiterates its continued support for the Convention against Torture initiative, as well as regional initiatives related to the prevention and elimination of torture
The Institute appeals to all states, particularly states that remain determined to continue allowing the practice of torture, to apply all the international instruments and laws prohibiting degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, the Institute stresses the importance of bringing justice to victims of torture, giving them their full rights, while simultaneously combating impunity and strengthening accountability for human rights violations, ensuing that violators of human rights and those engaged in torture do not evade the implementation of justice.
In addition, the Institute urges states and organizations to seek effective treatment for torture victims through specialized sustainable programs, as well as supporting these victims of torture to ensure that they can reintegrate into society and live a decent and full life.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is important now more than ever to highlight the necessity in eradicating torture and other ill-treatment. Finally, the Geneva Institute for Human Rights would like to take advantage of this occasion to request that all governments cooperate with the Special Rapporteur against Torture, respond to urgent appeals made on the basis of an identifiable risk of torture, as well as follow up on his recommendations and take the necessary steps to protect the individuals right to physical and mental integrity.