June 26: International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Cover credit: Latuff 2009

Cover credit: Latuff 2009

There are two reasons why the United Nations General Assembly adopted June 26 as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The first one is due to the fact that on this date in 1945 during the midst of World War II, the United Nations Charter was signed as the first international instrument, obliging U.N. members to respect and promote human rights.

The other reason lies in the fact that on June 26, 1987 the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect.

In this regard, Denmark, as the country which hosts the world-renowned International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), took the decision to annually observe the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture; the first events were launched in 1998 and since then nearly 100 organization in several countries all over the world celebrate the day each year with events and campaigns.

On July 16, 2009, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was even chosen as a public holiday in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we express our solidarity with, and in support of, the hundreds of thousands of victims of torture and their family members throughout the world who endure such suffering. We also note the obligation of States to not only to prevent torture but to provide all torture victims with effective and prompt redress, compensation and appropriate social, psychological, medical and other forms of rehabilitation. Both the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have now strongly urged States to establish and support rehabilitation centers or facilities.
— U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture foundation, administered by the U.N. Human Rights Office in Geneva. It is a victim-focused system that provides funding for the assistance to victims and their families.

This commemorative year represents an opportunity for renewed and increased support to this vital mechanism, besides being a stark reminder of the continuous plight of thousands of victims in need of assistance.

In a program of rehabilitation, the video below shows therapists and their clients, who are victims, talk about the process of reclaiming their lives and dignity. Watch it to know their stories.