26 June 2003






GENEVA, 25 June (UN Information Service) -- The United Nations Committee against Torture, the Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on the question of torture, the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights and Officer in charge of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights have made the following statement on the occasion of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June 2003:


  “In an international environment deeply affected by conflict and violence, we feel it is essential to reiterate that it is the obligation of States to prevent, prohibit, investigate and punish all acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. Freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is an absolute right which cannot be derogated from under any circumstances, including in times of armed conflict and other situations of public emergency. We also take this opportunity to highlight the absolute character of the principle of non-refoulement, which provides that no one shall be deported to a State where he or she would be in danger of being subjected to torture.


“We welcome the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which allows for visits by independent experts to places where people are detained or otherwise deprived of their liberty, as an important tool for preventing torture, and we encourage States to ratify this new instrument and to set up national mechanisms allowing such visits to take place.


“We recall that States’ obligations with regard to the prohibition of torture also include the duty to provide adequate, effective and prompt reparation to torture victims, including facilities for their rehabilitation. We therefore continue to support those States, organizations and other organs of civil society that are committed to eradicating torture and securing redress for all torture victims.


“On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we call upon governments, non-governmental organizations, private and public entities and individuals to express their solidarity with victims of torture and members of their families by contributing generously to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, so that the Fund can increase its financial assistance to about 200 projects run by non-governmental organizations all over the world to provide psychological, medical, social, economic, legal and other forms of humanitarian assistance to about 100,000 victims of torture and members of their families.”




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