Around the world, in every region, men, women and children are still being tortured by non-State actors and under direct State policy. Despite its absolute prohibition under international law, this dehumanizing practice remains pervasive and, most disturbingly, is even gaining acceptance.
The law is crystal clear: torture can never be used at any time or under any circumstances, including during conflict or when national security is under threat. On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we express our solidarity with and support for the hundreds of thousands of victims of torture and their family members throughout the world.
The Convention Against Torture, ratified to date by 159 UN State Parties, stipulates that States have to ensure that a victim of torture under their jurisdiction obtains redress, including the means for as full rehabilitation as is possible. When States neglect their obligation to prevent torture, and fail to provide torture victims with effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate forms of rehabilitation, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is a lifeline of last resort. Established by the UN General Assembly 35 years ago, the Fund supports hundreds of organizations that provide legal, social, psychological and medical assistance to some 50,000 victims every year.
The Fund requires a minimum of US $12 million in annual voluntary contributions. I strongly urge States to stand by victims by supporting this UN Fund, and to remain fully engaged in the fight against torture and impunity. Assisting victims of torture and stopping this crime will benefit whole societies and help provide a future of safety and dignity for all.