A selection of UN TV programmes, webcasts and video clips on issues in the news

Friday, 1 July 2016

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2016, June 26.

اليوم الدولي لمساندة ضحايا التعذيب، 26 حزيران.
Journée internationale pour le soutien aux victimes de la torture, 26 juin.
Международный день в поддержку жертв пыток, 26 июня.
支持酷刑受害者國際日, 6月26日。
Día Internacional en Apoyo de las Víctimas de la Tortura, 26 de junio.
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2016, June 26.

Statement by the United Nations Secretary-General for the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2016, June 26th.

Around the world, in every region, men, women and children are still being tortured by non-State actors and under direct State policy. Despite its absolute prohibition under international law, this dehumanizing practice remains pervasive and, most disturbingly, is even gaining acceptance.
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.
The Convention Against Torture, ratified to date by 159 UN State Parties, stipulates that States have to ensure that a victim of torture under their jurisdiction obtains redress, including the means for as full rehabilitation as is possible. When States neglect their obligation to prevent torture, and fail to provide torture victims with effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate forms of rehabilitation, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is a lifeline of last resort.
Established by the UN General Assembly 35 years ago, the Fund supports hundreds of organizations that provide legal, social, psychological and medical assistance to some 50,000 victims every year.
The Fund requires a minimum of US $12 million in annual voluntary contributions. I strongly urge States to stand by victims by supporting this UN Fund, and to remain fully engaged in the fight against torture and impunity. Assisting victims of torture and stopping this crime will benefit whole societies and help provide a future of safety and dignity for all.
Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General.

A life-saving journet supported by the UN Fund For Victims of Torture

Statement by Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Intl. Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2016.

Victims of torture come from many walks of life. They are in all countries. They may be human rights defenders, migrants, journalists, persons with disabilities, indigenous people or members of minority groups or people from the LGBT community. Children, too, may be tortured – whether to obtain information, or to put pressure on their parents and communities.
The work of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture indicates that today the number of children victim of torture is rising. In 2016, 5,279 child and adolescent victims of torture are estimated to be given assistance by organizations funded by the UN Fund, which represents a 35% increase compared to 2015. In addition, a shockingly high number of child migrants and refugees suffer detention at borders, and may suffer very harsh physical and psychological abuse in detention by agents of the State.
Twenty-nine years ago, the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment became law. Today, it is ratified by 159 States. It prohibits unreservedly the intentional infliction of severe pain, physical or mental, to obtain information, to punish for perceived crimes, or to put pressure on the victim or other parties.
Torture is a severe violation of human rights that can never be justified – even during wartime, or when national security is under threat. Article 14 of the Convention further commits States to ensuring that all victims of torture under their jurisdiction obtain redress, and to the extent possible, rehabilitation. When States fail to care adequately for these and other victims, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture steps in to help them obtain rehabilitation and redress.
The Fund, which is operated by my Office and this year marks its 35th year of helping victims, has provided over US$ 180 million to more than 630 organizations worldwide. In 2016 alone the Fund will finance 178 projects with US $7.1 million, helping more than 47,000 victims in over 81 countries regain their dignity. Every victim matters. Helping the Fund provide specialized rehabilitation to these men, women and children is one very real way that each of us can make a difference. And it is a concrete manifestation of the commitment towards the elimination of torture.
Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Statement by Mr. Mikolaj Pietrzak, Trustee of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture 2016, June 26th.

In 2016, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture marks its 35th anniversary of supporting victims of torture worldwide. It was in 1981 that the General Assembly agreed to establish this innovative victim-focused mandate to provide direct assistance to victims of torture “wherever torture occurred” (GA resolution 36/151). This was at the time when the world was faced with the horror accounts from torture victims from Chile and Argentina. Three decades on, much has been achieved towards the building of a solid UN anti-torture architecture, grounded on the 1984 Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol. The absolute prohibition of torture is now enshrined both in customary international law and constitutes jus cogens.
Torture is defined as a crime, in all circumstances, without exception. Yet, three decades on, the world continues to be faced with the plight of thousands of victims, now from Syria, Afghanistan and many other countries. As a matter of fact, victims of torture are in all regions and they come from all walks of life. They include human rights defenders, women and children, victims of enforced disappearances and their families, people with disabilities, indigenous people and minority groups, people from the LGBT community. They may be tortured in detention or in other places of deprivation of liberty; they may be asylum-seekers, undocumented migrants, internally displaced people, or victims of sexual violence in armed conflict. Three decades on, torture is very much a current, not historical, reality. From the unique observatory viewpoint of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, the number of victims is regrettably far from decreasing, with torture occurring in growingly complex contexts, including migration, protracted conflicts and extremist violence by non-State actors. Torture is still endemic, and there appears to be a growing ‘social acceptance’ of torture practices. In 2016 alone, the Fund is channelling 7,1 million US$ for the provision of direct assistance to some 47,000 victims and their families in 81 countries in the world. As long as victims are out there, assistance needs to be provided. As so clearly put by the organizers of this important commemorative event, the provision of such assistance is not charity. It is a legal obligation of States under international law, enshrined in article 14 of the Convention against Torture).
The reparative concept of assistance to victims is very comprehensive, as recently clarified by the CAT in its General Comment nr. 3. Victims may seek redress, encompassing both rehabilitation (medical and psychological) and legal remedy and satisfaction in the context of the right to truth. In most cases, assisting a victim results to restoring his/her physical and psychological well-being, accompanying her/him to re-integrate into the society and enable his/her access to justice. Every victim matters and is entitled to redress. Moreover, evidence and experience gathered by the Fund and its partners over the last thirty years show that the long-lasting effects of rehabilitation are felt beyond the individual - onto the community and society. As stated so clearly by a leading psychiatrist working in northern Iraq with the support of the UN Fund: “Take one member of society, torture him, send him back to society, it is as if you have torture the entire society”. The successful provision of redress may also have a long-term preventive effect towards the non-recurrence of atrocious human rights violations and the affirmation of the rule of law. For example, organizations awarded in the past by the Torture Fund worked on the documentation of torture cases committed during the military rule in the 1970s and 1980s in Argentina and Chile, which later proved essential in the prosecution and conviction of perpetrators. Rehabilitation may therefore occupy a central role in the cycle of prevention.
Rehabilitation work is also critical in the current high migration flows, since it is known that among asylum-seekers about 1 out of 3 is a victim of torture – not to mention other human rights violations. Structures and procedures need to be strengthened to identify victims of torture and to provide them with specialized assistance for two reasons:
- Victims of torture are entitled to special protection under international law, including the right to non-refoulement;
- The earlier the survivors have access to treatment, the higher their chances of full recovery are. Early identification and assistance increases the chances of a refugee to successfully integrate in a new community.
The importance of promptly identifying and assisting victims of torture where torture takes place as well as when they arrive in a new place, is well recognized by the Fund. Our universal and neutral mandate enables us to work in all settings. We strive to support organizations in all regions of the world in order to be present where conflicts and torture take place as well as to support the safe haven that some victims may manage to reach. Despite the legal, moral and social arguments in support of the provision of redress to victims of torture, most States have yet to put in practice the right to rehabilitation for victims of torture and their families. In most countries, civil society initiatives continue to fill a critical gap left by States, and often with the sole support of the UN Fund for Victims of Torture. In all regions of the world, there are doctors, lawyers, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers that dedicate their lives to victims. Many of them are present in this room today. In situations where the State is particularly omissive and/or repressive, they are to be saluted as Human Rights Defenders.
Specialized rehabilitation is neither an easy gain nor an easy fix. It takes specific skills and resources to establish well-functioning rehabilitation centres, providing a variety of services including medical, psychological, social and legal. And the positive long-term consequences may not be easily identified nor quantified. This is why the UN Fund is increasingly setting aside resources for both emergency interventions as well as longer-term capacity-building and knowledge-sharing. The work of the Fund and its partners show that life after torture is possible. This year’s expert workshop convened by the UN Fund last April brought together practitioners dealing on a daily basis with children and adolescents that have endured torture. The workshop brought to life the growing scientific evidence on the damage caused by torture to children and adolescents in terms of physical, psychological, social and developmental challenges. This may have life-long consequences in a child’s future, unless rehabilitation and redress is timely and adequately provided. All experts dealing with victims of torture concur that assisted healing after torture has a greater potential for the non-recurrence of violence and abuse.
While we continue to invest in preventing and eradicating torture altogether, it is important to reiterate its absolute prohibition under all circumstances, including within the context of public responses to security threats. It is equally important to respond adequately to victims and their families. Breaking the silence and acknowledging the plight of victims may contribute to the prevention of the intergenerational transmission of trauma and the victim’s stigmatisation. Before concluding, let us commit to a victim-centred approach, beyond this important commemorative day. Let us also continue to support the UN Fund for Victims of Torture in its unique work in support of the implementation of victims’ rights. Its role will continue to be necessary until no victim is left behind.
Mr. Mikolaj Pietrzak, Trustee of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

FORUM :  International Day in Support of Victims of Torture -26 June

Key messages on UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.


Geneva, Switzerland :
High-level Panel on World Drug Day 2016 organized by EU Delegation to the UN, South Africa and Denmark with UNVFVT support (Room XXV, Palais des Nations, 16 June, 2-3:30 pm) UN Geneva

Copenhagen, Denmark : Regional meeting held by CTI in partnership with the German Chairmanship of the OSCE – and with DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture.
  (Copenhagen, Denmark, 23-24 June)
- Rehabilitation for victims of torture in OSCE participating States

NEWSTorture victims’ right to rehabilitation “often neglected”. UN Radio
The UN Fund stands with victims of torture on 26 June.
A story of resilience: From torture victim to therapist - OHCHR.


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