Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin T.D. calls for an end to torture on the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
On the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Micheál Martin T.D., called for the eradication of tortureand other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Expressing his abhorrence at the use of torture, Minister Martin said that ‘torture is among the very worst violations of human rights and human dignity. It may inflict terrible physical pain, but can also have devastating emotional and psychological effects’.
In the year of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Minister recalled the absolute prohibition in international law on the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. He stated that “Ireland is totally committed to taking persistent, determined and effective measures to eradicate such practices, including through our work in the EU and in other international fora such as the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.”
The Minister also urged all States which have not yet done so to become parties to the International Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a matter of priority. Ireland ratified the Convention Against Torture in April 2002. The Minister recalled that Ireland, along with other EU partners, also warmly welcomed the entry into force in June 2006 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which Ireland signed on 2 October 2007 and is in the course of ratifying.
The Minister stated that Ireland's commitment to eradicating torture was further demonstrated through our support for the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. In the past five years, Ireland has given €1 million to the Voluntary Fund, including €250,000 in 2008.
The Minister also paid special tribute to the work of human rights NGOs and human rights defenders who work tirelessly, and often at great personal risk, to bring cases of torture to the attention of the international community and to assist those at risk of torture.
Note for Editors
Observed on 26 June every year, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture focuses on helping torture victims and ending torture. 26 June was first designated as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture by the UN General Assembly in 1998. The date is particularly significant as it marks the anniversary of the entry into force of the UN Convention Against Torture in 1987 and the day the United Nations Charter was first signed in 1945. The Convention Against Torture obliges States to make torture a crime and to prosecute and punish those guilty of it. It notes explicitly that neither higher orders nor exceptional circumstances can justify torture. Ireland ratified the Convention in April 2002, having passed the Criminal Justice (United Nations Convention Against Torture) Act in 2000.
The UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture was established by a General Assembly resolution in1981 to receive voluntary contributions from Governments, non-governmental organizations and individuals for distribution to non-governmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance to victims of torture and members of their families. Ireland’s contribution to the Fund is earmarked in our annual contribution to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
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