Press Releases

26 June 2002

Saluting International Day in Support of Torture Victims, Secretary-General Says Terms of Convention Remain "True and Relevant" As Ever

NEW YORK, 25 June (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June:

Torture is one of the most atrocious violations of human dignity. As the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, tells us: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

The horrific events of 11 September 2001 have prompted a debate on many fronts about the means that may be required and justified to combat the threat of terrorism. But let us be clear: the above words from the Convention against Torture remain as true and relevant today as they were when the document entered into force on this date 15 years ago. We cannot achieve security by sacrificing human rights. That would hand the terrorists a victory beyond their dreams -- for rather than preventing terrorism, I fear we would encourage it.

Humankind must continue to stand united in the fight against torture. The broad commitment to that fight is already demonstrated by the leading role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the campaign against torture and against impunity for those who perpetrate it; and by the contribution of governments, through the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, in support of hundreds of NGO projects worldwide. Those projects provide crucial medical, psychological, economic, social, legal and other assistance to hundreds of thousands of victims of torture and their families.

On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, I call on all Governments to give generously to the Fund, so that an even greater number of projects can be funded in the coming year. And I call on all of us to redouble our resolve to eradicate torture from the face of the earth.

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