Torture still exists everywhere in the world and there is a worrying trend towards its increasing acceptance. Ahead of the International Day to Support Victims of Torture on 26 June, the UN Human Rights Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said that despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, surveys show a shocking number of people favour its use.
The UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by 159 States, became law 29 years ago. It absolutely prohibits the intentional infliction of severe pain, physical or mental, to obtain information, to punish for perceived crimes, or to put pressure on the victim or other parties.
Victims come from all walks of life, including human rights defenders, migrants, journalists, persons with disabilities, indigenous people or members of minority groups. They even include children.
In 2016, according to the UN Fund for Victims of Torture, about 5,279 child and adolescent victims of torture will be helped by organizations assisted by the UN Fund. This shows an increase of 35% compared to 2015.
LGBTI people are also targets of torture. To mark 26 June, a group* of UN human rights experts called on States to increase efforts to prevent the ill-treatment and torture faced by LGBTI people in places of detention.
Providing assistance to victims of torture is not charity; it is the law. Article 14 of the Convention Against Torture stipulates the obligation of States to ensure that a victim of torture under their jurisdiction obtains redress, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.
When States fail to care adequately for these and other victims, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is often a last resort in helping them obtain rehabilitation and redress.
Redress and rehabilitation of victims of torture is possible and has positive lasting effects in families, communities and for society as a whole.
The Fund, which this year marks its 35th year, is managed by the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva. Established in 1981, it has provided over US$ 180 million to more than 630 organizations worldwide.
In 2016 the Fund will finance 178 projects with US $7.1 million, helping more than 50,000 victims in 81 countries.
Join the UN Fund. Download 26 June campaign material.
24 June 2016
(*) The experts include those from the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, the UN Committee against Torture, the UN 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.