Stop Torture: A new global campaign


In May 2014, Amnesty International launches its global Stop Torture campaign to ensure that everyone be protected from torture. In the thirtieth anniversary year of the UN Convention Against Torture, the organization is building on more than 50 years of experience to insist that governments live up to their promises and respect international law. It is urging people to demand a stop to torture.


The campaign focuses on all state custody contexts. This includes: ordinary criminal justice systems; people held by the military, police forces, Special Forces, secret services; situations involving emergency laws, regulations or provisions; and unofficial or secret places of detention (where risk of torture significantly increases). The campaign does not include torture by non-state actors or ill-treatment occurring out of state custody, such as excessive use of force during demonstrations, though Amnesty International will continue to work vigorously on these forms of abuse as well.


Amnesty International will mobilize its global membership on the following five countries, Nigeria, Mexico, Philippines, Uzbekistan and Morocco/Western Sahara.


Amnesty International is seeking the establishment and implementation of effective safeguards against torture as the route to change. When effective safeguards are in place, people are protected. When safeguards are not in place or not put into practice, torture thrives.


Bringing torturers to justice


In many countries impunity for torturers is endemic and allows torturers to operate without fear of arrest, prosecution or punishment. Impunity undermines criminal justice systems and the rule of law. It means denial of justice for victims.


Impunity is often due to lack of political will, since the state itself – or a state arm such as the police or military – is frequently directly responsible or complicit in torture. In many countries, the thoroughness and impartiality of investigations into torture allegations are undermined by the fact that they are carried out by fellow law enforcement officials or prosecutors that work closely with those accused. Impunity can also result from a government’s failure to prioritize human rights on its domestic political agenda, or from an agreement between two sides in an armed conflict not to investigate and punish perpetrators of abuses.


A state’s failure to bring torturers to justice often goes hand-in-hand with a refusal to investigate and unwillingness to provide reparations for victims. The result is often a threefold breach of international obligations by the state: under international law victims have the right to know the truth about what happened, to see justice done and to have the harm they suffered repaired to the extent possible.


Effective, independent mechanisms for investigating and prosecuting torturers are essential. These must be backed up by the political will to bring in necessary reforms to laws and institutions, maintain permanent vigilance, combat discrimination and act on every torture case.




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