Events
   
   
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

26 June 2004
   
   

"Prohibition of torture ‘absolute’, binding on all states, in all circumstances"
Message of the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the International Day
in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June 2004

 
   

 

EU Presidency Declaration to mark United Nations International Day in Support
of Victims of Torture

   
   
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture
Committee against Torture
Special Rapporteur on Torture
United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture

 


 


EU Presidency Declaration to mark United Nations
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture


26 June 2004

 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Mr Brian Cowen, speaking as President of the Council of the European Union, on the occasion of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June), reaffirmed the importance that the European Union attaches to the prevention and eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all parts of the world.

Expressing his abhorrence at the use of torture, Minister Cowen described torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment as "among the most abhorrent violations of human rights and human dignity". The Minister went on to say that this day is an occasion to speak up against this scourge, to be mindful of those who suffer under it and to pay tribute to those who combat torture and help victims overcome the physical and psychological pain, and also an opportunity to call for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Referring to the need for international co-operation to eradicate torture, Minister Cowen said that the EU welcomes and supports the work done by the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the OSCE in the fight against torture. Co-operation by States with international mechanisms, such as the UN Special Rapporteur and the Committee Against Torture, is essential to make the international system of protection and promotion of human rights effective.

The Minister said that the EU firmly believes that torture has no place in the 21st century, and that it can never be justified. It is seventeen years since the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force. Since then 136 States have ratified the Convention. Yet torture continues to occur and perpetrators continue to go unpunished, even in countries that have ratified the Convention. There is a need for more intensive and concerted action to achieve the global eradication of torture. As a first step the EU calls on all States that have not yet done so to ratify the Convention as a concrete step in the struggle to prevent torture.

The Minister also said that the EU recognises that it is important to continue to develop new strategies and follow through on those already in place. The EU therefore calls on all States to consider becoming parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

The EU's commitment to the eradication of torture has been underscored by the adoption in 2001 of Guidelines for an EU Policy towards Third Countries on Torture. The Guidelines put the issue firmly at the centre-stage of the Union' human rights policy. This commitment has been demonstrated by the funding at community and national level for the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.

The Minister also noted the role played by human rights NGOs and human rights defenders as deserving of particular attention, saying "they work selflessly, and often at great risk, to bring cases of torture to the attention of the international community and to assist those at risk of torture". Their role has been recognised by the EU most recently by the adoption of EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, which were welcomed by the June European Council.

The Minister concluded by calling on the international community to stand together to make the world free from torture.