26th JUNE UN INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

SICHREM calls upon the Government of India to immediately ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”) and to pass a domestic legislation categorically prohibiting torture immediately.

26th June marks the UN International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture. It provides us with an opportunity to honour the victims and survivors of torture, and for us all, survivors of torture and their allies, to stand in solidarity. The Convention against Torture (CAT) adopted in 1984, came into effect on June 26th,1987,

Despite its prohibition, torture continues: both physical and psychological and is prevalent in over half the world’s countries. Instances of torture are not confined to police custody and interrogation situations. In a variety of other settings, particularly in the private sphere, the emotional and physical ordeal endured by women, harassed for dowry, subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination; young children forced into labor, subjected to verbal, physical and sexual abuse; the suffering of marginalized groups, the severe inhumane forms of atrocities on Dalits are some instances. This is a disgrace in the twenty-first century.

The aim of torture is to exert power, to punish, create fear, to destroy trust, to break down the victim’s personality and resilience. It is first and foremost a means of instilling fear in society at large. Torture is not only destructive at the individual and family level, but also a crucial obstacle to economic and social development.

The effects of torture continue long after the actual act. And rehabilitation is crucial – for the individual, their family and society. The purpose of rehabilitation is to empower the survivor to resume as full a life as possible. Rebuilding the life of someone whose dignity has been destroyed takes time and as a result long-term material, medical, psychological and social support is needed. It is important to stress that rehabilitation is possible. And it works. Rehabilitation is also a right.

As of 22nd June 2012, there are 150 State Parties, who have ratified CAT and 74 states are yet to ratify CAT – the Government of India has still not ratified (signed in October 1997).

The Government of India introduced the Torture Bill in the Lok Sabha on 26th April, 2010 and passed it on May 6, 2010. The Rajya Sabha then referred it to a Select Committee which submitted its report in December 2010 with some recommendations. The Government needs to amend and expand its current definition of torture to conform to its obligations of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

SICHREM in Karnataka has documented more than 50 cases of illegal detention, torture, encounters(extra judicial killings), deaths in police & judicial custody from January 2012 to June 2012(6months), and has filed complaints with the Human Rights Commission, courts of law and other human rights institutions.

Therefore SICHREM demands the following from the Government of India:

1) To ensure that an order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as justification for committing torture;

2) To provide an effective mechanism to promptly investigate any allegation of torture;

3) To make compensation an enforceable right, including the means for full rehabilitation.

 AND

1. The immediate ratification of the Convention against Torture without any reservations and the signing and ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention;

2. The passing of legislation which brings domestic violence within the definition of torture;

3. Specific safeguards protecting women, children, dalits and minorities, set out in legislation and strictly enforced through human rights institutions and court directions;

The day was observed with a ‘Walk against Torture’  from St. Joseph’s College to Town Hall Road followed by a ‘Candle Light Vigil’ at Town Hall Road at Bangalore on 26th June 2012 

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