The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is annually observed on 26 June. The United Nations General Assembly had first observed the day in 1998 to raise awareness about those who undergo torture and how it impacts their lives.
The date marks the moment in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect. The Convention, which is one of the main instruments in fighting torture, has been ratified by 162 countries till date.
On 12 December 1997, under its resolution 52/149, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 26 June as the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, with an aim to totally eradicate torture. The day also calls for effective implementation of the Convention against Torture by stakeholders and member states.
What is the significance?
The day mobilises support for people who have faced torture and calls on member states to help rehabilitate them. When the first International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was celebrated on 26 June 1998, the UN appealed to all stakeholders, governments, and members of global society to take action against torture and torturers.
The United Nations has repeatedly emphasized on the important role played by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in combating torture. Apart from lobbying for the monitoring mechanisms of the UN, they also contribute towards enforcing those mechanisms. Individual experts like the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and Special Rapporteur on torture as well as treaty monitoring organisations like the Committee against Torture rely heavily on information they receive through NGOs and individuals.
How is the day celebrated?
Several organisations including the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and Amnesty International play an important role in promoting the purpose of the day through multiple activities. This includes distribution of posters, photo exhibitions, and other material to make people aware of the different issues associated with human torture.