June 26 – International Day in support of victims of torture
Torture is a crime under international law. But there is no specific Indian law banning torture. According to all relevant laws, it is absolutely prohibited and cannot be justified under any circumstances. This prohibition forms part of customary international law, which means that it is binding on every member of the international community, regardless of whether a State has ratified international treaties in which torture is expressly prohibited. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity.
Torture seeks to annihilate the victim’s personality and denies the inherent dignity of the human being. Despite the absolute prohibition of torture under international law, torture persist in all regions of the world. Concerns about protecting national security and borders are increasingly used to allow torture and other forms of cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. Its pervasive consequences often go beyond the isolated act on an individual; and can be transmitted through generations and lead to cycles of violence.
The United Nations has condemned torture from the outset as one of the vilest acts perpetrated by human beings on their fellow human beings.
The day was selected by the United Nations General Assembly for two reasons. First, on 26 June 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed during the midst of World War II – the first international instrument obliging UN members to respect and promote human rights. Second, 26 June 1987 was when the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect.
India signed the UNCAT on April 19, 1997, 21 years later, is yet to ratify it. The UNCAT has been ratified by 162 countries and the Optional Protocol to the UNCAT has been ratified by 83 countries. The Supreme Court of India is hearing a petition, filed by former Minister of Law and Justice Mr.Ashwani Kumar, seeking directions to Government of India to execute a comprehensive and purposive domestic law and action plan for the prevention of torture, cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment, death in official custody.
Human Rights Cell of Coimbatore District Bar Association has been observing this Day from the year 2000. It has published booklets for creating awareness on the subject.