Law Squirrel

UN Secretary-General Calls for End to Torture

Ban Ki-moonSecretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon (pictured) has called for the practice of torture to be ended completely. Ban Ki-moon said that there was a “crystal clear” ban on torture under international law, and that this had to be better-reflected in reality.

Legally, Ban said in a recent statement, torture is something that should “never be used at any time or under any circumstances, including during conflict or when national security is under threat.” Despite this, however, he went on to say that the reality remains that “despite its absolute prohibition under international law, [torture] remains pervasive and, most disturbingly, is even gaining acceptance.”

A number of nations and entities have courted legal controversy through the use of torture and of interrogation techniques which could be considered forms of torture. Notably, the government of the USA has struggled with this issue in recent years. A few months ago, it was alleged by the US branch of Amnesty International that one suspect was left in desperate need of medical care, and was yet to receive it, following the use of torture in an interrogation. At the end of last year another advocacy group, Human Rights Watch, called for government officials to be prosecuted for their role in torture programmes.

The alleged use of torture by the US has not gone without legal challenge. A lawsuit has been brought against a pair of former military psychologists. The two people in question were responsible, under the presidency of George W. Bush, for developing the CIA’s interrogation programme which is claimed to have included the use of torture. In fact, the lawsuit alleges that these individuals actually encouraged the adoption of torture as an official interrogation technique by the CIA. In April, it was ruled by a US federal judge that the lawsuit in question should be allowed to proceed.

In his statement, Ban Ki-moon also made mention of the Convention Against Torture. 159 UN member states have ratified this convention, and under it these states are prevented from making use of torture. States that have ratified the convention are also obliged to provide compensation and rehabilitation to anybody who has been made a victim of torture within their jurisdiction.

Ban requested that the states that have ratified the Convention Against Torture also give support to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. This fund was set up with the express purpose of rendering direct support and assitance to torture victims and their families.

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