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[Press Release] 10 December 2014: Human Rights Day

December 2014

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FIACAT invites Switzerland and Togo to strengthen the absolute prohibition of torture.

Paris, 10 December 2014: The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1984, today celebrates its 30th anniversary. This is the central legal instrument for the prevention and criminalisation of torture and the punishment of those responsible.

Torture is one of the most horrific crimes. It is a serious violation of the dignity of the victim and often has immense, and even irreparable, physical and psychological consequences. It not only traumatises the victims and their families, but it also often affects the whole community.

On Human Rights Day and the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention against Torture, FIACAT reaffirms that a world without torture is only possible if torture is criminalised in the states’ legislation and if states’ judicial and security personnel are trained on its prohibition.

For example, the Swiss Penal Code exclusively criminalises torture committed "within the context of a widespread or systematic attack against the civilian population" (crimes against humanity) or "in the context of an armed international conflict" (serious violations of the Geneva Convention). Acts of torture committed outside of these contexts are therefore not criminalised. Although it is true that the Penal Code contains a number of legal provisions on offenses against life and bodily integrity, these rules do not cover all aspects of the concept of torture. Furthermore, the punishments foreseen for this type of offense are not as serious as the crime of torture and risk failing to have a dissuasive effect.

Likewise, Togo is party to many international and regional instruments which prohibit torture absolutely. Despite these commitments, many people in custody or detention continue to be tortured or mistreated, particularly by security forces. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and the United Nations Committee against Torture appear to be concerned by allegations of torture and mistreatment, particularly of people detained in investigative unit premises and detention centres. Torture is encouraged by the facts that those alleged to be responsible are rarely pursued and that the confessions obtained through torture are used as evidence in court.
In addition, Togolese criminal legislation does not explicitly define torture nor criminalise it. The United Nations and the ACHPR have invited Togo, many times, to add provisions to this end to its Penal Code. Furthermore, they have urged Togo to change the current draft of the Penal Code so that the crime of torture is imprescriptible and to accelerate the implementation of the new Code of Criminal Procedure containing provisions which make confessions obtained through torture inadmissible in court.

For these reasons, FIACAT and the Swiss and Togolese ACATs are launching, today, Human Rights Day, two petitions demanding that the Swiss Federal Council and the Togolese President Faure Gnassingbé criminalise torture in their criminal legislation.http://www.fiacat.org/petition-appe...http://www.fiacat.org/petition-appe...

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