International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

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26 June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture since the UN resolution 52/149, which raised interest and concern amongst the international community.

On this occasion, UN Secretary-General António Guterres declared stated that “Torture is a vicious attempt at breaking a person’s will. On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, I urge all States to end impunity for perpetrators and eradicate these reprehensible acts that defy our common humanity.”

Similarly, High Representative Federica Mogherini made a statement on behalf of the EU, in which she welcomes the Bahamas and the South Africa’s recent ratification of the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol (OPCAT), and calls on all States to do the same.

She reminds that the European Union uses all types of tools – diplomatic, political and financial – to work towards a “torture-free world.”

Even though lots of efforts have been made, it is important to stress that lots of countries still tolerate the practice of torture, or even where torture is widespread and part of a system, as it is in Bahrain.

The recent cases of Ali AlArab and Ahmed Al-Malali illustrate this issue. Bahraini Security forces tortured both men and forced them to confess to crimes they did not commit, before sentencing them to death in mass trials. In a letter on 21 May 2019, five UN human rights experts appealed to the Government of Bahrain to “halt the imminent executions” of Mr. Al-Arab and Mr. Al-Malali, raising “serious concerns that they were coerced into making confessions through torture and did not receive a fair trial.”

The International Day in Support Of Victims Of Torture is thus still absolutely relevant and necessary today.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the statements of António Guterres and Federica Mogherini. ECHDR calls on all States to join the OPCAT and to work on holding accountable all perpetrators.