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Torture - What relief from the ICRC ?


Confronting victims of torture

Torture is an experience without parallel, capable of inflicting deep and long-lasting physical and psychological suffering. Beyond the healing of physical wounds, the legacy of torture can be felt in the victim's whole future personal and social development.

Through its work in prisons throughout the world, the ICRC is often in the unique situation of confronting victims of torture whilst the ordeal is ongoing. Trying to limit its effects through intervening directly with the detaining authorities is one of the most fundamental and challenging aspects of the institution's detention work.

Whilst delegates are realistic about the chances of stamping out torture completely in prisons, successes can be obtained in reducing the levels of ill-treatment. At the same time, prisoners have often articulated the healing value of being able to share their experience in an atmosphere of trust, and of the importance they place in feeling momentarily "human" in an environment of brutality, the very aim of which is to de-humanise its victims.

The ICRC firmly believes that confidential dialogue with the concerned authorities is a crucial means of trying to bring about improvements for prisoners and of continuing to have direct access to the prisoners themselves. However, it values highly the complementary work performed by groups who campaign tirelessly to raise awareness about the issue by public advocacy such as through today's UN Day for Victims of Torture.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June)

The Assembly in 1997, on the recommendation of the Economic and Social Council (decision 1997/251), proclaimed 26 June United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (resolution 52/149 of 12 December). The Day aims at the eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which entered into force on 26 June 1987.

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