In his message to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the “absolute prohibition” of torture is “stipulated in unequivocal terms” as a foundational principle, including within the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Much has been achieved in the fight against this and other cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and treatment, yet more action is needed to eradicate torture fully,” he said.
“Torture remains unacceptable and unjustified at all times, including during states of emergency, political instability, or even in a war.”
In the message, the Secretary-General also paid tribute to all who stand in solidarity with the victims of torture and their families, and underscored that the victims have the right to justice, rehabilitation and redress.
Commemorated annually on 26 June, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture marks the moment in 1987, when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, came into effect.
The International Day also serves as a rallying cry for all stakeholders including UN Member States, civil society and individuals to unite in support of victims of torture and those who are still subjected to the ghastly practice. It also highlights the need for prompt and specialized rehabilitation programmes to help victims “make the transition from horror to healing.”
“It takes decades to restore this broken human being as a result of the effects of a pernicious attack on their body and their mind,” said High Commissioner Zeid in a separate message.
In his message, the UN rights chief also reiterated the vital role played by the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, a unique victim-focused mechanism that channels funding for the assistance to victims of torture and their families that helps over 50,000 torture victims and their families every year.
The UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, also underlined the need for stable and peaceful States everywhere, to support victims of torture.
“If you do not pay attention” to the victims, he said, “and if you leave them unattended, they are the ones will keep the wounds of a State open because their suffering hasn’t been addressed.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights added that the Fund plays a “critical role in restoring some sense of humanity to societies and societies” where torture is still used.