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[Press Release]International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: strengthening the ban on torture at a time of heightened security concerns

June 2016

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Paris, 26 June 2016 : refugees dumped in detention facilities under inhumane conditions, detainees kept in overcrowded and unhealthy prisons, members of the political opposition and human rights defenders on the receiving end of threats from governments: in 2016, a large proportion of the world’s population was still at the prey of acts of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment.

In their daily work in the field and within regional and international human rights systems, FIACAT and the ACATs have noted that the security situation has been propitious to human rights violations and, more seriously still, has been instrumental in public opinion accepting and legitimising the use of torture. That is why FIACAT wishes to make clear on this, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the importance of ensuring respect for and reinforcing the international judicial instruments in this area. For several decades, a range of international and regional instruments have existed which completely ban the use of torture at all times and in places and circumstances, and call for impunity to be combatted.

Moreover, new international and regional instruments have recently been adopted to strengthen the legal arsenal in the field of combating torture: Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in May 2014; and the Mandela Rules, which were unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2015, and which tighten up the minimum rules on the treatment of detainees.

‘The law is crystal clear: torture can never be used at any time or under any circumstances, including during conflict or when national security is under threat. On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we express our solidarity with and support for the hundreds of thousands of victims of torture and their family members throughout the world’ (Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, June 2016).

FIACAT therefore calls on all States to:

  • ratify and implement the international and regional instruments which ban torture;
  • ensure that monitoring mechanisms are put in place, as provided for in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), adopted 10 years ago on 22 June 2016;
  • combat impunity and ensure that the victims of torture have the right to redress.

FIACAT and the ACATs call on believers across the world to show their support for those suffering at the hands of torturers, through prayer and action at the 9th Night of Vigil (www.nuitdesveilleurs.com), to be held on the night of 26 to 27 June 2016.

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