On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we pay tribute to the victims of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. At a time when the world is joining efforts to overcome the coronavirus pandemic, human rights must remain at the core of our battle. On this day, we give a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people who have been victims of torture and those who are still tortured today.
Torture and other ill-treatment can never be justified. The prohibition of torture is absolute – the use of torture is illegal under all circumstances. The European Union reaffirms its strong commitment to combating torture worldwide through a comprehensive approach encompassing prohibition, prevention, accountability and redress for the victims.
The eradication of torture is a global challenge; it should be a global ambition. It is not impossible to achieve, but can only be done if we act together. Joint efforts with international partners, in particular the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the International Criminal Court, regional organisations, national partners and civil society can make a real difference. The Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade (link is external) is a good example of how we can work together and we call on all States to join it.
The European Union reiterates its call for a universal ratification and effective implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol. With 170 States parties to the Convention, most recently Angola and Oman, universality is within reach; only 25 States still have to ratify it.
Through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, the EU supports civil society organisations working to prevent torture and assist victims worldwide. Concretely, over the past decade, the European Union has allocated more than €80 million to support those at the forefront of this work. We will continue to stand by human rights defenders who courageously engage against torture around the world.
Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, torture persist in all regions of the world. Concerns about protecting national security and borders are increasingly used to allow torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. Its pervasive consequences often go beyond the isolated act on an individual; and can be transmitted through generations and lead to cycles of violence.
The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings.
Torture is a crime under international law. According to all relevant instruments, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.