“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948, art. 5)
Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Convention against Torture (CAT) expressing support for those individuals who have suffered unspeakable acts at the hands of others. The prohibition of torture is a part of customary international law and is enumerated in a number of human rights treaties. CAT expands upon other human rights treaties in order to define the role of government’s “responsibility to protect” citizens from these crimes against humanity. As a measure of customary law, all states are expected to abide by the terms prohibiting torture; this prohibition is also a stipulation included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Under these treaties, States are prohibited from condoning or partaking in acts of torture and are expected to hold perpetrators responsible under national law or to allow the international community to prosecute in the event that the State cannot. Under no circumstances are States allowed to deviate from this understanding, including in a state of emergency. Unfortunately, a large number of human rights complaints continue to stream in from countries all over the world every year. Despite attempts by the international community to eradicate torture, it persists worldwide and many of the victims lack access to medical treatment and services which they are entitled.
Several international organisations have taken up the call to provide resources to victims. One such organisation is the Freedom from Torture Medical Foundation, which has been a recipient of the Garden Court Special Funds as they share in Garden Court’s mission to ensure human and civil rights. Through medical treatment as well as psychological treatment many have been able to rebuild their lives.
The UN uses the anniversary of this convention as an opportunity to commemorate survivors and the resources still desperately needed to ensure they are able to successfully recover and rebuild their lives. Organizations like the UN and NGO’s focused on the rehabilitation of victims are crucial in raising awareness to this problem. Therefore, in hopes of ending torture and bringing those perpetrators to justice, Garden Court Chambers joins the UN in its commemoration to those victims.