The ‘war’ on terrorism has
been used to justify the introduction of military and legal measures
that are posing a threat to the ban on torture. This is happening both in the
Civil society is finding it difficult to respond effectively to such attempts to undermine the ban on torture, which was in fact consolidated in 2002 by the adoption of an Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, setting up new prevention mechanisms. The fact is that the existing laws are not enough to keep the ban on torture alive and enable it to develop. We need to go back to the sources of such laws, their ethical basis, and to seek a better understanding of human dignity, the fear factor and the need for security felt by all human beings and which underpins so many political decisions.
That was what this three-day International Seminar aim to do, namely to understand the social factors that allow governments to practise torture, and to explore ways of resisting this trend. Participants benefited from their own rich variety of geographical backgrounds, as well as the presence of speakers with first-hand experience of the issues and academic expertise in the field. They have been given an opportunity to learn new ways of upholding the ban on torture and bearing witness to the fact that torture is totally incompatible with a Christian-based vision of Man and society.