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Message from the President
Torture is absolutely banned under international law. Whatever the circumstances, no one can be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. No exceptions to this are tolerated, nor should they be.
This is laid down in the main international and regional legal documents, such as the United Nations Treaties, Geneva Conventions, European Convention on Human Rights, European Charter of Fundamental Rights, American Convention on Human Rights, African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, etc. These texts have created international and regional mechanisms to prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, to ensure that people who have been arrested or imprisoned are treated humanely, to encourage States to protect individuals against a serious risk of torture, to combat the impunity which torturers too often enjoy, and to compensate victims of torture and their families. The absolute nature of the ban on torture has given it a moral dimension: torture has become ‘unthinkable’. It humiliates the human being and fundamentally attacks human dignity.
Christian faith teaches the dignity of mankind and the inestimable value of life. It is not only important to combat torture; it is a major component of spiritual life: rejecting the destruction of one person by another through passionate advocacy of human dignity. Condemnation of torture therefore cannot be an optional part of Christian life. It is, rather, part of the very essence of that life, at its heart ‘Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.’ (Epistle to the Hebrews 13.3).
At a time when torture is carried out in more than half of the countries in the world, Christians – congregations, religious institutions and Churches – should therefore engage more resolutely in the struggle for its abolition. That is why in 2012, at an international seminar to be held from 17 to 19 June 2012 in Brussels (Belgium), FIACAT is proposing to discuss the following issue: Regarding human dignity, what is the Christian contribution today?’
Sylvie Bukhari-de Pontual