26th June UN international Day in support of victims of Torture-Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“CAT”)
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).