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International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

1927 drawing depicting Japanese torture method (source: Heibonsha)26 June 2013 -- On this date in 1987, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. It was an important step in the much-needed process of globalising human rights and acknowledging that torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, are absolutely and universally illegal. In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

"Right to Rehabilitation" is the theme for this year's campaign. Governments are reminded of their responsibilities towards victims of torture as outlined in the UN Convention. Holistic rehabilitation, as provided by International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) members globally, includes medical, psychological, legal and vocational support to survivors of torture. Article 14 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture expressly provides that States should make compensation to torture survivors an enforceable right, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. The Convention explicitly recognises that rehabilitation has to form part of the response to torture.

Sources: United Nations Department of Public Information, International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)

 

Selected learning materials

Study Guide on Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
This guide provides a brief introduction into definitions and practices of torture, international human rights standards and strategies for prevention.

For educators

Stop torture (Amnesty International)
This booklet is part of a package of education materials produced by Amnesty International to provide teachers and educators with a generic resource that can be used to prepare lessons that assist children in understanding that torture is a violation of human rights. It is written for 10 to 12-year-old children but can be adapted as required by the teacher/educator for other age groups.

For legal professionals

Combating Torture. A Manual for Judges and Prosecutors (Conor Foley, 2003)
This manual outlines the duties and responsibilities of judges and prosecutors to prevent and investigate acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment to ensure that those who perpetrate such acts are brought to justice and their victims are provided redress. It also provides practical advice, drawn from best practice, about how torture can be combated at a procedural level.

Guide to Jurisprudence on Torture and Ill-Treatment: Article 3 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights (Association for the Prevention of Torture)
This guide describes the jurisprudence around cases of torture and ill-treatment taken up by the European Court of Human Rights. It is intended as useful tool for practitioners, human rights defenders and scholars.

For human rights monitors

Istanbul Protocol: Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights)
This manual, better known as the Istanbul Protocol, is intended to serve as international guidelines for the assessment of persons who allege torture and ill-treatment, for investigating cases of alleged torture and for reporting findings to the judiciary or any other investigative body.

Preventing Torture: A handbook for OSCE field staff (OIDHR)
This handbook serves as a basic reference work for OSCE staff who are confronted with allegations related to torture and ill-treatment or who need access to the relevant international safeguards, standards and mechanisms.

The Torture Reporting Handbook. How to document and respond to allegations of torture within the international system for the protection of human rights (Camille Giffard)
A reference guide on how to take action in response to allegations of torture or ill-treatment. It explains how the process of reporting and submitting complaints to international bodies and mechanisms works; how you might go about documenting allegations; what you can do with the information once it has been collected; how to choose between the various mechanisms according to your particular objectives; and how to present your information in a way which makes it most likely that you will obtain a response.

International and regional treaties and standards on abolishing and preventing torture:

- Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1975)

- Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1984)

- Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (2002)

- Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1982)

- Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture (1985)

- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1987)


Useful links

Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)

European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)

UN Committee Against Torture

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Other organisations that monitor and campaign against torture

Other organisations that provide support to victims of torture

 

 

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