States should reaffirm their commitment to victims of torture on 26 June
Tomorrow, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, is an occasion to reaffirm our commitment to those who have endured horrific suffering. Since the Convention Against Torture entered into force 26 years ago on 26 June 1987, 153 States have ratified the Convention – thus accepting obligations to take effective measures to prevent torture, to ensure that it is punishable under their criminal law and to provide reparation to victims.
Nonetheless, a lot remains to be done. Torture is still prevalent in too many countries, including many which have ratified the Convention. Many victims remain without the remedy and reparation they are entitled to and perpetrators are rarely held to account.
Among the most encouraging highlights of recent months is the adoption of a General Comment by the UN Committee against Torture that elaborates on the nature and scope of survivors’ rights to reparation, including compensation and rehabilitation. It clarifies States’ obligations to provide survivors with effective redress under Article 14 of the Torture Convention.
Most importantly, it recognises the many practical barriers to justice faced by survivors and stresses the need for States to take action to meet their commitments. A Human Rights Council resolution reinforced this stance in March, calling on States to not only provide redress for victims of torture but to ensure that they are fully involved in the process to help them rebuild their lives and reintegrate into society.
REDRESS calls on States to take all necessary steps to fulfil the pledge that they made when they joined the Convention. This includes removing all obstacles that currently impede victims’ ability to obtain redress. “Even where survivors’ right to remedy and reparation is recognised by law, survivors face many practical hurdles – including lack of resources and information, fear of reprisals, corruption and long delays – denying them those rights in reality,” said Dadimos Haile, REDRESS’ Interim Director. “We are urging States to remove those barriers.”
REDRESS also calls on States to make generous contributions to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which has seen diminishing pledges in recent years. REDRESS is marking the UN Day in Support of Victims of Torture with a series of activities, including the launch of a special edition of the bulletin “Victims’ right to reparation in Africa”.
For further information:
Contact Eva Sanchis at [email protected] or +44 (0) 2077931777.
REDRESS was founded by a British torture survivor in 1992. Since then, it has consistently fought for the rights of torture survivors and their families in the UK and abroad. REDRESS takes legal challenges on behalf of survivors, works to ensure that torturers are punished and that survivors and their families obtain remedies for their suffering. REDRESS has intervened in a range of leading torture cases.