Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 26 June 2019

On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the European Union reiterates its strongest opposition to any kind of acts of torture worldwide. Torture is a crime that can target anyone through different forms and in different settings, and all victims of torture, including those who are unacknowledged, neglected or overlooked, are at the forefront of our policy.

The prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is absolute in international law. At times when this prohibition continues to be challenged all over the world, the European Union repeats its call for the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol (OPCAT) to be universally ratified and effectively implemented by all States. The Bahamas’ recent ratification of the Convention and South Africa’s ratification of the OPCAT are positive examples.

To step up its work towards a torture-free world, the EU is using all its political and financial tools, ranging from the protection of victims, including those most vulnerable, to awareness raising, speaking out against abuses, to urging States to comply with their obligations under international law, to investigate allegations of torture and to bring perpetrators to justice. Ensuring redress for victims is also crucial.

Through its external action, the EU and its Member States also engage with third countries in regular political and human rights dialogues and financially support civil society organisations in fighting torture. In the last four years, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights supported anti-torture projects worldwide worth €23 million, and an additional amount of €8 million is foreseen for 2019.

Against the backdrop of current challenges and setbacks, progress towards eradication of torture has been achieved. More can be done if we all work together at international, national and regional level, hand in hand with the civil society and especially the human rights defenders who courageously raise their voice against torture around the world.

The Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, promoted by the EU, Argentina, Mongolia and Cape Vert, is a cross-regional effort gathering more than 60 countries committed to ending trade in goods used for torture and capital punishment globally. The EU calls on States to support ongoing work at UN level, towards establishing common international standards in this field.

The United Nations, the Council of Europe, the International Criminal Court and other bodies, such as national preventive mechanisms and civil society organisations, are carrying out a work which is vital towards eradicating torture in all its forms. The EU and its Member States will continue to cooperate closely with all their partners to build a torture-free world for all.