United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

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2023 Date26 June 2023
2024 Date26 June 2024

United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture serves as an annual reminder of the absolute prohibition on the use of torture, one of the most abhorrent acts of human cruelty. It stands as a symbol of solidarity and support for the victims and survivors of these inhumane acts. The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture aims to emphasize the essential need for rehabilitation and restitution for those who have suffered the physical and psychological effects of torture.

Historically, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1984. By observing this day, people in India, a signatory since 1997, should be aware of their country's commitment to eradicate such acts and to ensure access to justice for victims. India, as a progressive democratic nation, has made strides in advancing human rights; however, instances of custodial torture and illegal detention still surface. This Observance is a clarion call for Indian citizens to stand against such atrocities and work together towards eradicating all forms of impunity for torturers.

In India, various activities are held to draw attention to the devastating effects of torture on its victims, often led by NGOs and human rights groups. Events include workshops, seminars, and panel discussions that create awareness and explore the ways to address this grave issue. These activities aim at reminding people of India that they are a part of a larger international community, committed to eradicating torture and supporting its victims. In line with the international community, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is observed annually on June 26.

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Facts & quotes about victims of torture

  • The term torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions - UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Torturers must never be allowed to get away with their crimes, and systems that enable torture should be dismantled or transformed - UN Secretary-General António Guterres
  • India has long been committed to the prohibition of torture and signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) in 1997. However, it is yet to ratify the treaty. Indian anti-torture laws are still considered inadequate due to certain gaps in legislation.
  • Although torture is not permissible under the Indian legal framework, cases of abuse and mistreatment in police custody continue to be reported.

Top things to do in India for this observance

  • Watch the UN's video on torture and how it is done in secret.
  • Learn more about the UN's fund for victims of torture.
  • Watch a documentary to learn more about Victims of Torture in India. Here are some suggestions:
    1. The Indian Government Torture in Nagaland – This documentary explores the issue of torture by the government forces in the northeastern state of Nagaland, where insurgency and unrest have been ongoing issues.
    2. Khalsa - A Call for Freedom – This documentary highlights the human rights abuses and torture faced by members of the Sikh community in Punjab during the late 20th century.
    3. Encounter Killings by Police – This short documentary discusses the controversial issue of extrajudicial killings and torture by police in India, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  • Read a book to learn more about the UN Support of Victims of Torture in India. Here are our recommendations:
    1. Torture: A Collection edited by Ujjwal Kumar Singh.
    2. Human Rights in India: Issues and Challenges by Alok Chatterjee.
    3. Torture in India 2022: An India Civil Watch Report by India Civil Watch.

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