Day in Support of Victims of Torture
from H.E. Mr. Jan Kavan,
President of the Fifty-seventh Session of the UN General Assembly
26 June 2003
This is a day on which we pay our respects to those whose basic
human rights were abused, who suffer and who are sometimes forgotten.
This day is dedicated to remembering and supporting the many victims
and survivors of torture around the world. In 1997 the General
Assembly adopted its resolution 52/149 on the recommendation of
the Economic and Social Council and proclaimed 26 June United
Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. June
26 was not chosen at random. It was the day, in 1987, on which
the Convention against Torture came into force. It was also the
day, in 1945, when the fundamental document of the United Nations
and the first international instrument to embody obligations for
Member States to promote and encourage respect for human rights,
the United Nations Charter, was signed.
its establishment, the United Nations has worked towards the promotion
and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms that include
the freedom from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment. Today more than 130 States have ratified
the Convention Against Torture. I noted with appreciation, that
during the recent General Assembly session, the international
community took another step towards the further improvement of
the legal framework of prevention of torture by adoption of the
text of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.
This allows for visits by independent experts to places where
people are detained or otherwise deprived of their liberty.
the efforts of the international community and despite the fact
that many national constitutions, criminal codes, laws and regulations
proclaim the prohibition of torture, cases of torture are still
reported all over the world.
this special day, I would like to encourage States to ratify all
the existing international documents on prevention of torture
and to implement all the obligations including the immediate punishment
of the perpetrators of such crimes. I also stress the importance
of assistance that must be rigorously provided to victims and
survivors of torture to overcome the consequences of their experiences.
In this connection let me express my gratitude to the non-governmental
organizations, private and public entities and individuals for
continuing effort to prevent torture, to bring public attention
to such cases, to relieve the suffering and assist the recovery
of torture victims around the world often with the financial support
of the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
am convinced that the United Nations will always support the efforts
aimed at the elimination of torture and its consequences until
this atrocious practice has vanished from the face of the Earth.