EU/AU — Declaration about the United Nations international day in support of victims of torture

Joint Dec­la­ra­tion by the African Union and by the High Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Cather­ine Ash­ton on behalf of the Euro­pean Union on the Unit­ed Nations inter­na­tion­al day in sup­port of vic­tims of tor­ture

On June 26, the Unit­ed Nations Inter­na­tion­al Day in Sup­port of Vic­tims of Tor­ture, the African Union and the Euro­pean Union reaf­firm their com­mit­ment to the glob­al erad­i­ca­tion of tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment, and to the full reha­bil­i­ta­tion of tor­ture vic­tims. The absolute pro­hi­bi­tion of tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment is unequiv­o­cal­ly estab­lished under inter­na­tion­al law.

Recall­ing the Res­o­lu­tion 64/153 adopt­ed by the UN Gen­er­al Assem­bly on 18 Decem­ber 2009 and the Res­o­lu­tion 13/L.19 adopt­ed by the UN Human Rights Coun­cil on 26 March 2010, the African Union and the Euro­pean Union reit­er­ate that States must take per­sis­tent, deter­mined and effec­tive mea­sures to pre­vent and com­bat all acts of tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment. They urge States to ensure respect for the crit­i­cal role that judges, pros­e­cu­tors and lawyers play in the pre­ven­tion of tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment, includ­ing with respect to arbi­trary deten­tion, due process safe­guards and fair tri­al stan­dards, and bring­ing per­pe­tra­tors to justice. 

The African Union and the Euro­pean Union call upon all States, which have not yet done so, to become par­ties to the Con­ven­tion Against Tor­ture and oth­er Cru­el, Inhu­man or Degrad­ing Treat­ment or Pun­ish­ment and to its Option­al Pro­to­col (OPCAT), and to recog­nise the com­pe­tence of the Com­mit­tee against Tor­ture to receive and con­sid­er indi­vid­ual com­mu­ni­ca­tions. States must take deter­mined and effec­tive mea­sures, includ­ing legal reform, to pre­vent and com­bat tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or punishment.

The OPCAT rep­re­sents an impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion to achiev­ing inde­pen­dent and effec­tive tor­ture pre­ven­tive mech­a­nism both at the nation­al and inter­na­tion­al lev­el. As the first inter­na­tion­al instru­ment, OPCAT seeks to pre­vent tor­ture and oth­er forms of ill-treat­ment through the estab­lish­ment of a sys­tem of reg­u­lar vis­its to places of deten­tion car­ried out by inde­pen­dent inter­na­tion­al and region­al bod­ies. The African Union and the Euro­pean Union empha­sise that all States shall ensure that vic­tims of tor­ture obtain redress and have an enforce­able right to fair and ade­quate com­pen­sa­tion includ­ing the means for as full reha­bil­i­ta­tion as pos­si­ble. All States are urged to do their utmost to ensure the restora­tion of the dig­ni­ty and human­i­ty of vic­tims of tor­ture, who often suf­fer from long-term phys­i­cal injuries and post-trau­mat­ic stress dis­or­ders, which require spe­cialised and long-term reha­bil­i­ta­tion assistance.

The African Union and the Euro­pean Union strong­ly advo­cate that tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ments should be absolute­ly pro­hib­it­ed in all circumstances.

The Euro­pean Union con­tin­ues to sup­port diplo­mat­i­cal­ly, polit­i­cal­ly and finan­cial­ly the fight against tor­ture with­in the frame­work of the EU Guide­lines against tor­ture and oth­er cru­el, inhu­man or degrad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment. Spe­cial atten­tion is giv­en to the reha­bil­i­ta­tion of vic­tims of tor­ture through the Euro­pean Instru­ment for Democ­ra­cy and Human Rights. 

The African Union and the Euro­pean Union recog­nise the lead­ing role of the UN in fight­ing tor­ture and sup­port­ing vic­tims and under­line their sup­port for the UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Tor­ture, the Office of the High Com­mis­sion­er for Human Rights, the Com­mit­tee against Tor­ture, the Sub­com­mit­tee for Pre­ven­tion of Tor­ture and the UN Vol­un­tary Fund for the Vic­tims of Torture.

The African Union and the Euro­pean Union express their appre­ci­a­tion and sup­port to the work under­tak­en by region­al mech­a­nisms, in par­tic­u­lar the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on Pris­ons and Con­di­tions of Deten­tion in Africa of the African Com­mis­sion on Human and People’s Rights, the Com­mit­tee for the Pre­ven­tion of Tor­ture in Africa and the Coun­cil of Europe Com­mit­tee for the Pre­ven­tion of Tor­ture, and urge States to imple­ment their recommendations.

The African Union and the Euro­pean Union com­mend the per­sis­tent efforts by many NGOs and wel­come the rec­om­men­da­tions of the first EU-AU civ­il soci­ety human rights dia­logue, held in Brus­sels on the 16 and 17th of April 2009, which called for the fight against tor­ture to be a pri­or­i­ty of the coop­er­a­tion between the two con­ti­nents. We also take note that par­tic­i­pants called for a full imple­men­ta­tion of the Res­o­lu­tion on Guide­lines and Mea­sures for the Pro­hi­bi­tion and Pre­ven­tion of Tor­ture, Cru­el, Inhu­man or Degrad­ing Treat­ment or Pun­ish­ment in Africa (the Robben Island Guide­lines) and of the EU Guide­lines on tor­ture. The African Union and the Euro­pean Union are deter­mined to strength­en their coop­er­a­tion in the fight against torture.

The African Union and the Euro­pean Union com­mit to con­tin­ue and inten­si­fy their efforts to secure a world free from torture.

The Can­di­date Coun­tries Turkey, Croa­t­ia* and the for­mer Yugoslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia*, the Coun­tries of the Sta­bil­i­sa­tion and Asso­ci­a­tion Process and poten­tial can­di­dates Alba­nia, Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina, Mon­tene­gro, Ser­bia, and the EFTA coun­tries Ice­land, Liecht­en­stein and Nor­way, mem­bers of the Euro­pean Eco­nom­ic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Repub­lic of Moldo­va, Arme­nia and Geor­gia align them­selves with this declaration.

* Croa­t­ia and the for­mer Yugoslav Repub­lic of Mace­do­nia con­tin­ue to be part of the Sta­bil­i­sa­tion and Asso­ci­a­tion Process. 

Source:
Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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