As the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture approaches, 26 June, we write with the news that the International Bar Association (IBA) is partnering with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to advance our shared ambition for the absolute prohibition of torture. As stated by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, ‘torture is a severe violation of human rights that can never be justified – even during wartime, or when national security is under threat.’
On 31 May 2017, both organisations will launch web pages focused on this new partnership, our common objective to eradicate torture, and what each of us can do toward that goal. Please visit this webpage to learn about our work and see where you fit it. We think you’ll be inspired by the accounts of fellow legal professionals fighting impunity.
We ask that you help us spread the word by downloading ready-to-share ‘quote cards’ from the new web pages and sharing them widely via social media. The cards quote many renowned supporters of our work, and sharing them is an important way to contribute to the IBA-UN initiative.
Also, if you are in London on 26 June 2017, please register to attend a high-profile lunchtime panel that includes Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein; Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, British barrister and member of the House of Lords; Juan E Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on torture; and Beatrice Mtetwa, ‘Zimbabwe's top human rights lawyer,’ as described by the New York Times. Moderating the debate will be Dr Owen Bennett-Jones, BBC Radio journalist. At a time when the absolute prohibition of torture is being routinely challenged across the globe, the focus of the discussion will be the importance of reaffirming torture as a human rights violation.
International law is very clear on protecting people in detention from torture and mistreatment, yet across the world severe pain is being inflicted on human beings to force confessions. The repercussions of such practice on the rule of law is very damaging. As legal professionals, it is our responsibility to condemn the use of torture in all jurisdictions; to promote the use of existing rules and protocols for its prevention along the chain of custody; to encourage the use and correct interpretation of international standards in court; and to strengthen institutions and national, regional and international standards to prevent and punish torture. It is in all of our interests to protect the basic rights of detainees.
Through the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), much work around torture prevention has been carried out. The IBAHRI has strengthened the technical capacity of the legal profession to support victims of torture and to prosecute perpetrators in countries such as Tunisia, Mexico and Brazil. We know that when given the right tools, lawyers play a pivotal role in investigating crimes of torture and achieving justice for victims.
We hope you will get involved, and start by visiting our new webpage and sharing the featured quote cards. Together we can break the cycle of impunity that nourishes the reprehensible crime of torture.
International Bar Association
International Bar Association