UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Tuesday urged the international community to take measures to stop torture [official statement] by numerous states against their own citizens. Commemorating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture [official website], Ban and other UN officials addressed the need for continued support to end inhumane practices in various places around the world. Ban noted that countries are still using torture and other inhumane practices against citizens in response to their legitimate demand for freedom and human rights. The secretary-general stated that states should not only find ways to cease such practices but should also implement measures to compensate victims:
We also note the obligation of States not only to prevent torture but to provide all torture victims with effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate social, psychological, medical and other forms of rehabilitation. Both the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have now strongly urged States to establish and support rehabilitation centres or facilities. The United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture supports hundreds of organizations and entities that provide assistance to victims of torture and their family members in all regions of the world. However, the Fund has seen a significant decrease in contributions over the past two years. I strongly encourage States to reverse this trend, despite current global financial uncertainty. By concretely supporting victims of torture, the international community will prove its unequivocal determination and commitment to fight torture and impunity.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] supported [press release] Ban's call on Tuesday by stating that torture is illegal in any circumstance and urging states to live up to their promise to prevent and stop inhumane treatment of individuals. She also noted that torture is used even against children. In 1997, the UN General Assembly [official website] proclaimed June 26 the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture through Resolution 52/149 [text, PDF].
Torture and ill-treatment of individuals remain problems throughout the international community. Last week, the new Senegalese government was urged to adopt fresh measures [JURIST report] to protect and promote human rights by addressing the impunity that undermines the judicial system and rule of law in the country. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] found that the government was using torture and other similar methods to stop protesters and civilians as well as journalists and political opponents. Syria has also been subject to criticism by the UN experts [JURIST report] and human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] for its use of torture against civilians. It was reported [JURIST report] that Syria was even sexually abusing detainees regardless of gender and age. Even Canada was condemned [JURIST report] earlier this month for being complicit in rights violations against three Canadians who were held prisoner in Syria. The Canadian government dismissed [JURIST report] the criticism six days later. Exactly two years ago, Pillay pledged justice for torture victims [JURIST report], noted that democracies with a rule of law in place still maintain amnesties that prevent torturers from being brought to justice and promised that the international criminal tribunals and the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] will continue to prosecute those responsible for torture.