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International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Sunday 26 June 2011

24 June 2011
 

States must ensure that all victims of torture obtain reparation, including humanitarian support through the UN Voluntary Fund

The United Nations Committee Against Torture; the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture; the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and the 30th anniversary of the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture with the following statement:

GENEVA (26 June 2011) – “We have seen torture and ill-treatment continue to be widely practiced in recent public demonstrations that have been held in numerous countries around the world. It is essential to reiterate that it is the obligation of States to prevent, prohibit, investigate and punish all acts of torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. It is the obligation of States to respect the physical and mental integrity of all persons, ensure justice and accountability for victims and for the community as a whole, and bring those responsible for violations to justice.

Moreover, States must ensure that victims of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment obtain reparation, including redress and are awarded fair and adequate compensation and receive appropriate and comprehensive rehabilitation services. In this context, while international law and practice requires certain minimum standards and principles in relation to redress and reparations for victims of torture, we are concerned that some States only award formal rights which are often modest and peripheral to the justice systems.

We are equally dissatisfied by the lack of progress in institutionalizing basic principles and guidelines which seek to provide minimum standards for redress and reparations to victims. It is our conviction that victims must have a central role in holding torturers accountable for their actions. We would like to underline the preventive function of redress and reparation for victims of torture as part of the legal obligation to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We therefore continue to support those States, organizations and other organs of civil society that are committed to eradicating torture and securing redress for all torture victims.

This year, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture coincides with the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. During the past 30 years, the Fund has distributed over US$120 million to projects providing medical, psychological, legal, social and financial assistance to victims of torture and their family members, enabling victims to obtain redress and exercise their enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including as full a rehabilitation as possible. With the Fund’s support, physicians, psychologists, forensics experts, social workers, lawyers and other concerned individuals or groups have employed a victim-centered approach to assist their clients for years on their long journey rebuilding their lives, while at the same time documenting the use and effects of torture.

We express our gratitude to all donors to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which currently supports the work of over 300 organizations in more than 70 countries, and hope that contributions to the Fund will continue to increase to make it possible for victims of torture and members of their families to receive the assistance they need. We call on all States to contribute generously to the Voluntary Fund as part of a universal commitment for the rehabilitation of torture victims and their families so as to enable it to continue providing organizations with funds for psychological, medical, social, legal and economic assistance. We also call upon States to support the work of the domestic organizations through financial and other means, as well as create an enabling environment for the organisations to provide redress and rehabilitation for torture victims.

We further urge all States to become party to the Convention against Torture and make the declarations provided under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention, on inter-state and individual complaints, as well as become party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, in order to maximize transparency and accountability in their fight against torture.”

The Committee against Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CAT/Pages/CATIndex.aspx

The Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/opcat/index.htm

The Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/torture/rapporteur/index.htm

The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/TortureFundMain.aspx 

Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat-one.htm

For more information and media requests, please contact Mr. Ennio Boati (Tel.: +41 22 917 9497/ email: eboati@ohchr.org).

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