FORUM-ASIA re-affirms its commitment to the elimination of torture
26 June 2006 12:00 am
Today is the day the world must reaffirm its commitment to the elimination of torture. The invariable demands of human dignity must not be ignored and must be protected regardless of gender, race, and nationality. On this day, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, FORUM-ASIA attests once again that freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and reiterates its unwavering commitment to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.Today is the day the world must reaffirm its commitment to the elimination of torture. The invariable demands of human dignity must not be ignored and must be protected regardless of gender, race, and nationality. On this day, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, FORUM-ASIA attests once again that freedom from torture is an inalienable human right, and reiterates its unwavering commitment to building a world where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.
On 18 December 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted irrefutably one of the most significant human rights instruments ever drafted by the international community, the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. While a majority of previously-drafted human rights treaties focus on the protection of victims and the prosecution of violations against human rights, this Optional Protocol on Torture advocates for the prevention of one of the most gruesome acts towards mankind.
Furthermore, the Optional Protocol introduces and arranges structures at both the national and international level for this very purpose. Encapsulated in the protocol are other mechanisms which aim to achieve the worldwide elimination of torture including the establishment of independent national organs that can and will visit police stations, detention centres and prisons as well as a separate committee of international experts who will visit state parties to the Optional Protocol. Based on one of the fundamental articles of its mother Convention, the Optional Protocol aims to strengthen and make the States Parties more accountable on the prevention of torture.
Despite international efforts to protect human rights, many regimes allow for the persistence of torture. Victims of torture and inhumane treatment remain afflicted without justice. Torture continues to shatter lives in many Asian countries. However, the grim situation is only perpetuated as many Asian states refuse to acknowledge the seriousness of the issue, denying their obligation to address the problem.
Nineteen years ago, on this very same day of 26 June, the Convention against Torture came into force. Incidentally it is also the day the United Nations Charter was signed 53 years ago. FORUM-ASIA, on this day, pays tribute to all human rights defenders who have worked to protect victims of torture. FORUM-ASIA also urges member states that have ratified the convention to accept obligations to take effective measures in preventing acts of torture and to gear efforts to make sure that all acts of torture do not go unnoticed under impunity. Furthermore, countries that are not party to the Convention and its Optional Protocol must ratify and accede to all legal instruments. In Asia, the only state to ratify the Optional Protocol is Maldives and the region as a whole suffers from the non-existence of a comprehensive domestic legislation which protects victims from torture.
Finally, with the coming into force of the Statute of the International Criminal Court penalising Torture as a Crime against Humanity, the elimination of torture worldwide has gained further legal guarantee.
On this day, we reach out to all our partners in the civil society movement around the region to work together in a spirit of solidarity to urge Asian states to sign and ratify both the Convention and the Optional Protocol. FORUM-ASIA calls upon NGOs to shed light on the issue of torture. We must invigorate our commitment in denouncing all acts of torture and work together, not only to prevent torture, but to seek justice for torture victims.