Message from the President,
Throughout 2015, in an increasingly fraught environment (refugee crisis in Europe, terrorist attacks, political upheavals and danger for human rights defenders, particularly in Africa), FIACAT has continued its fight for the abolition of torture and the death penalty, a fight which is having its effect and is acknowledged by all its partners, intergovernmental organisations and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs), and is supported by the day-to-day groundwork carried out by the ACATs.
It is generally very difficult to pinpoint the effect of any specific action in the field of human rights, since outcomes usually depend on the combined work of different actors. But some results can be attributed directly to FIACAT. For example, FIACAT’s international advocacy work is undoubtedly effective.
Of the 240 recommendations put to the United Nations this year by the ACATs, 50% have been given priority status by the Treaty bodies (Committee Against Torture, Human Rights Committee) and 90% were taken up by the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The work FIACAT has done to support ACATs working on the ground has proved its worth. This year, in two sub-Saharan African countries it resulted directly in the liberation of 100 persons held in abusive pre-trial detention, 62 in Côte d’Ivoire and 38 in Benin.
At a time when human rights are regularly called into question and trampled on, when democracies impose restrictions on freedom in the name of security, what better response is there than that of the effectiveness of human rights, which save lives, bring about freedom and safeguard dignity? They are an extraordinary vehicle of hope for all those whose rights are being violated, throughout the world. Respect for human rights is not a matter for experts alone, but is above all the responsibility of every one of us, part of our awareness that all human beings are our brothers and sisters. It is up to Christians united in their one faith to live that respect and to show it in their actions!
Sylvie Bukhari-de Pontual
President of FIACAT