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HomeWorldGovernments Must Protect Those Who Help Torture Victims, Say Human Rights Experts

Governments Must Protect Those Who Help Torture Victims, Say Human Rights Experts

GENEVA (24 June 2021) – Victims of torture have the
right to rehabilitation and those who help them in this
process must be allowed to carry out their work without
reprisals UN human rights experts* said in a statement
on the occasion of the International Day in Support of
Victims of Torture, 26 June. Rehabilitation includes
adequate medical psychological, social and other relevant
specialized treatment.

“People who have endured the
ordeal of torture and its long-term consequences have an
enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation,
including as full as possible rehabilitation,” the experts
said. “The Convention against Torture provides these
remedies in order to award fair and adequate compensation
for the blatant human rights violations and to restore

“It is particularly important that
governments respect and uphold the right to redress,” they
said. “They must pay particular attention to ensuring that
medical and other professionals involved in the treatment of
victims of torture, as well as civil society organizations
and human right defenders can carry out the vital work of
documenting torture and supporting the rehabilitation of
victims, unfettered by restrictions and

They said the level of reprisals against
civil society organisations remains high, while
all-too-often torturers enjoy impunity. Not only do
governments deny that they practice torture, they refuse to
prosecute perpetrators and use intimidation and reprisals
against civil society organizations, human rights defenders,
whistleblowers and journalists in order to deter them from
speaking out and obtaining compensation for victims, the
experts said.

The UN experts warned
in 2012
that victims of torture face reprisals for
submitting complaints or cooperating with the UN. “Since
then the trend of reported reprisals and severity against
individuals and groups specifically for engaging with the UN
has increased,” they said.

The UN Convention against
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (CAT), the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of
Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Torture have all
adopted measures to address retaliation and reprisals
against civil society organizations working to end and
prevent torture and to help victims.

In 2020, the UN
Secretary-General, in addition, adopted a Call
to Action for Human Rights
that makes civic space a
priority area and issued the UN
Guidance Note: Protection and Promotion of Civic

In their statement, the experts say civic
space is vital in preventing and combatting torture and
safeguarding the rights of victims of torture and

“We urge States to uphold the
absolute and universal prohibition against torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to
enable a conducive environment for redress and
rehabilitation for victims of torture, and for civil society
to operate freely,” they said.

To mark the day, the
UN experts, in collaboration with the American University,
Centre for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law, will convene
a public webinar on Friday, 25 June 2021. It will be held
from 15:00 to 16:30 (UTC+2) under the theme “fostering
civic space to obtain redress and accountability for victims
of torture.” The webinar seeks to promote an open and
secure civic space in order for victims of torture to obtain
effective accountability and reparation, including the
fullest rehabilitation possible.

The webinar will be
live streamed through the following link:


The UN experts: Suzanne
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
Claude Heller,
Committee against Torture
, Nils
Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment
; and Vivienne
Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of

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