This week marked the anniversary of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.
According to the United Nations, torture as a practice seeks “to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being.”
The U.N. General Assembly adopted resolution 52/149 in December 1997, a resolution that proclaimed June 26 as the U.N. International Day in Support of Torture Victims. Believing torture to be “one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings,” the resolution maintains the intention to completely eradicate all torture measures and practices.
Torture practices used today include the controversial waterboarding, sleep deprivation, force feeding, electric shock and cold cell, among others. Rape, beatings and public sexual humiliation are also considered to be forms of torture as they are measures used to inflict pain upon other individuals. Countries, including the United States, continue to use enhanced interrogation techniques to obtain information from suspected criminals or terrorists. Many believe these techniques qualify as acts of torture.
“As we honor the victims on this International day, let us pledge to strengthen our efforts to eradicate this heinous practice,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
The U.N. Fund for Victims of Torture has assisted torture victims around the world. It provides direct assistance to torture victims — assistance that includes access to psychological and physical rehabilitation centers as well legal services.
While many countries do not make use of torture practices, 41 countries have not ratified the Convention Against Torture and thus allow and continue to use practices deemed to be inhuman by the U.N. In fact, Amnesty International’s 2013 Report stated that 112 of 159 countries practiced torture methods in 2012.
“Torture is an unequivocal crime,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said. “Neither national security nor the fight against terrorism, the threat of war, or any public emergency can justify its use,” Pillay said. “All States are obliged to investigate and prosecute allegations of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and they must ensure by every means that such practices are prevented.”
– Ethan Safran