INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE
Every year on June 26th, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture speaks out against the crime of torture. The day also honors and supports the victims and survivors of torture.
Torture occurs when someone intentionally inflicts pain on a person. The act is considered a crime against humanity. While international law prohibits the use of torture, many countries still use methods of torture. Some of the countries where torture is most common include:
- Sri Lanka
- Democratic Republic of Congo
Those who resort to using torture usually do so to obtain information from someone or to punish them. Abusers may also target people for reasons including political activity or belonging to a minority. Though we most often think of torture as physical, it can also be mental.
Survivors of torture often experience long-term psychological problems. Clinically, therapists define the resulting health issues as trauma, anxiety, and depression. However, some victims live in constant fear and have regular panic attacks and nightmares. Their symptoms may lead to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some victims of torture may even experience physical symptoms, such as chronic pain, headaches, and respiratory problems.
Developed countries have many resources available for victims of torture, including medical treatment, psychotherapy, and support groups. Many underdeveloped countries, however, lack these resources. Without access to healing, many victims of torture will never have a sense of peace.
This is why the United Nations developed the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture administered by the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva. Each year, funds from the program help nearly 50,000 survivors of victims of torture transition from horror to healing.
HOW TO OBSERVE
UN member states, stakeholders, civil societies, and individuals around the world unite on this day to support victims of torture. Governments are encouraged to enforce laws to protect their citizens from various methods of torture.
- Host an event near you
- Support rehabilitation centers near you
- Help connect survivors to resources and support
In 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As part of this declaration, the international community condemned torture and other inhumane treatment. In 1975, the UN adopted the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, they made further progress in enforcing the prohibition of torture. In December of 1997, the General Assembly proclaimed June 26th as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.