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Homeland Security

Secretary-General urges all States to accede to Convention against Torture

26 June 2008 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged all United Nations Member States to accede to the Convention against Torture, and to also consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention which includes international and national visits to places of detention.

Referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Mr. Ban said, in a message to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, that the foundation of international human rights law strictly prohibits torture “under any and all circumstances.”

“And yet, 60 years since the adoption of the Declaration, torture persists, devastating millions of victims and their families,” he said, adding that the Day was “a call to speak out and take action on their behalf and against all those who commit torture and all forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The Secretary-General also called on States to do more to ensure that the torture-protection framework was applied in a gender-sensitive manner.

“Certain forms of gender-specific violence amount to torture as it is defined in the Convention against Torture,” he said. “I call on the international community to strengthen the international legal framework to ensure better protection for women, including access to international assistance.”

Mr. Ban also called on all governments to continue their support of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which he described as one of the largest UN humanitarian trust funds, helping provide victims with medical and psychological care, legal and social aid, and financial support.

In a related development, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) released a statement calling for comprehensive efforts to stop torture and ill-treatment in the country.

Among other measures, the office called for the prosecution of torture and ill-treatment to the extent possible using existing criminal laws as well as urgent steps to adopt new specific legislation. The office also urged the Government to implement the recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission on torture, as well as improvements to the Torture Compensation Act to ensure a victim’s right to reparations.

“Concerted action and continuing political will is needed to ensure that appropriate measures are taken to stop ill-treatment and torture, and to dismantle the culture of impunity that exists in Nepal,” OHCHR-Nepal Deputy Representative Jyoti Sanghera said.

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