Do you know what’s the biggest crime? It is the crime against humanity. 26 June has been observed as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This day was marked by United Nations General Assembly in 1997 to raise awareness regarding the suffering of people who undergo torture, with a vision for the total eradication of this practice. It also marks the establishment of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on 26 June 1987. Let us explore the relevance of international day in support of victims of torture and how it is necessary to eradicate torture all over the world!
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“Torturers must never be allowed to get away with their crimes, and systems that enable torture should be dismantled or transformed” – General António Guterres UN Secretary
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Torture- A Crime Against Humanity
Torture means to torment someone. Torture is not just an unacceptable act it is a crime against humanity. It is a vile act of punishing someone by inflicting pain upon them and making them suffer. The Human Rights Court defines torture as ‘deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering’.The act of torture is strictly condemned by the UN and is regarded as a crime against humanity. According to international law, it is a crime, which means it is obligatory to every member of the international community. Sadly, there are still many regions in the world where torture is still practiced.
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Corona Virus Increasing Torture Cases
With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN Anti-Torture mechanisms saw an escalation in the cases of torture in prisons worldwide, and not to forget the dangers of contracting the deadly virus. This situation has highlighted the risk of torture for countless children, women, and men in the whole world. Experts have warned that the COVID-19 pandemic should not derail the governments from their responsibility to eradicate all forms of torture.
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History- International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
On June 26th, 1987, UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect as a step towards acknowledging the fact that torture or any degrading treatment should be condemned and is universally illegal. On 26th June, 1997, UN General Assembly, under resolution 52/149, designated the day officially as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture to honor and support the victims and survivors of torture. The aim of the day is to totally eradicate torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
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The significance of this day lies in efforts made by the UN to mobilize support for the people who have suffered from torture, all around the world. The first international day in support of victims of torture was held on June 26, 1998, where the United Nations called upon and appealed to all governments, stakeholders, and members of global society to take action to defeat torture and torturers everywhere. Today, the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment is ratified by 162 countries.
India is a diverse nation and one of the countries with highest torture cases. In 2010, a bill was in place Prevention of Torture Bill to protect the it’s citizen. It was a first step towards India’s UNCAT ratification. India is one of only five countries along with Sudan, Brunei and Haiti, that hasn’t ratified the 1987 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Steps Taken to Prevent Torture
The purpose of this day it to prevent all citizens from the horror of torture. Here are some of the essential steps taken to prevent torture over the years:
- 1975– Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the General Assembly.
- 1981– The UN Human Rights Office in Geneva administered a unique mechanism, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, in 1981, to raise funds to provide assistance to victims of torture and their families. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture also accepts donations.
- 1985– A Special Rapporteur was adopted by The United Nations Commission on Human Rights as an independent expert to undertake investigation and reports on questions relevant to torture.
- 1987 -The Committee against Torture, is an independent body, established to monitor the implementation of The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by states.
How is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is Celebrated Around the World?
Various rehabilitation centers and human rights organisations around the world, hold events and specialised programmes to urge people to unite and raise voice against torture. These discussions and campaigns not only raise support for victims of torture, but also provide them with a platform to raise their grievances and mobilise public support.
Organisations such as International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and Amnesty International, work relentlessly to acknowledge the importance of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture and have played an active role in organizing events and campaigns around the world to promote the day.
The commendable work done by organisations and rehabilitation programmes all around the world, in raising awareness for this grave issue has demonstrated that proper rehabilitation measures can provide opportunity for victims to make the transition to healing. We should also do our part because even a small token of assistance can impact someone’s life in a big way!
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