UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Human Rights
What freedom does asylum really give?

Tomorrow (26 June) is the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It was chosen because it was that date, during World War II, that the nascent United Nations signed the UN Charter – the first international treaty obliging nations to respect and promote human rights. It is also the date, in 1987, that the United Nations Convention against Torture came into effect.

People Fleeing From Torture

Torture is surely one of the vilest acts someone can inflict upon their fellow human beings. It seeks to crush the victim’s personality and denies the essential dignity of the human being. It is one of the main reasons why so many people flee their country of origin to seek safety elsewhere.

It is a sad fact that some of the refugees we see as an organisation have experienced some form of torture. Many people fleeing from places such as Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka and Eritrea all report being the victims of torture and their safety from such inhumanity is their only reason for fleeing their homeland. We must ensure that these people receive the help and support the need to overcome their ordeal and readjust to society. We must also support their right to flee from oppression and seek sanctuary. Far too many human beings around the world have to suffer the brutality and inhumanity of torture – far too few of those people make it out of the terrifying situations that they face. Of the few who do, and who make it to our shores, not enough get the full support and care they need from our society. By working together we can end torture worldwide and ensure that the victims of torture receive the rehabilitation they need.

It is a vicious and cruel practice that should not exist and it goes without saying that those who have suffered it deserve as much support as we can give them. However, while we have a very long way to go, there are a number of groups doing amazing work to support torture victims. We at the Scottish Refugee Council do all we can to support the victims of torture when and where we can and we work with organisations such as REDRESS and Freedom from Torture. These brilliant groups and others deserve a huge amount or respect for the work they do while we all question why their work should be necessary in the first place.

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