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Seeking justice for torture victims today: UN gathers survivors of torture and experts for a public event

GENEVA (10 April 2018) – Human rights defenders, victims of torture and rehabilitation practitioners will gather at the United Nations on 11 April 2018 for a high-level public panel on access to justice convened by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

“Justice, we have learned, is the only reparation possible in the face of so much cruelty and pain. Nowadays… situations of injustice may come to light sooner and be stopped faster, but the same premise applies: policies to protect human rights are inconceivable without justice,” said Estela de Carlotto, President of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, who has worked tirelessly for the right to justice and truth for children and grandchildren victims of the former dictatorship in Argentina.

The public panel, on 11 April from 11:00 – 12:30 in Conference Room IX at Palais des Nations, Geneva, will inaugurate a two-day workshop that will bring together people assisting victims of torture from around the world. Participants will share best practices in strategic litigation; on ways to assist specific groups, including victims of gender-based violence, people with disabilities and children; and on integral assistance in the legal process.

“As a torture survivor… justice for me means holding the perpetrator of torture accountable in a court of law. Justice brings relief and a sense of fulfilment to the victim. If justice is not served, the torturer will be emboldened… Therefore, we must stand resolute and united to create a world in which the court of law is the venue where a torturer is made to pay for his action… in accordance with due process,” said Hassan Bility, journalist and a victim of torture during the Liberian Civil War.

Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore will make opening remarks at the panel. Panellists will include Estela de Carlotto, Co-founder and President of Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo (Argentina); Ambassador Carsten Staur, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN in Geneva; Hassan Bility, Journalist and Director of the Global Justice and Research Project (Liberia); Rupert Skillbeck, Director of REDRESS (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland); and Jens Modvig, Chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture.

The high-level public event forms part of the week-long annual session of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, to be held from 9-13 April 2018 at Palais des Nations, conference room XXVII.

ENDS

For more information, or to request interviews with meeting participants and other experts, please contact Associate Human Rights Officer María Cecilia Ercole in Geneva at mercole@ohchr.org / +41 22 917 3685 (office) or +41 78 924 3188 (mobile).

For media accreditation, please see here.

Background

The Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, established in 1981, supports organizations that offer psychological, medical and social assistance as well as legal aid to victims of torture and their family members. It also finances training programmes, allowing health professionals, social workers and lawyers to exchange experiences and develop capacity to address the needs of torture victims.

Learn more about the UN Fund & the public panel of 11 April 2018:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/UNVFT/Pages/47thSession.aspx

How to apply to the Fund: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/onlineapplicationsystem.aspx

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

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70thanniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.

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