Aminata Dieye: Goals of the Campaign in the Context of Regional Diversity
Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Madame Mayor of Geneva,
Mr. Vice-Rector of the University of Geneva,
Mr. President of OMCT,
Mr. Secretary-General of OMCT,
The members of the OMCT Executive Council from Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa have reflected on the actions and strategies to be undertaken in the different regions under the campaign “Nothing can justify torture under any circumstances”.
The Manifesto on the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment to which eminent personalities have lent their support is a framework that the NGO members of the SOS-Torture Network will use in the field and within which local authorities and populations can commit themselves to the eradication of torture, which is a negation of human dignity.
The SOS-Torture Network is comprised of 297 organisations in 97 countries that take action on various matters relating to human rights. The communications and urgent actions that OMCT deals with on a daily basis have drawn the Council’s attention to a recurrence of cases of violations of human rights leading to the ill-treatment and torture of human rights defenders, as a result of their work in the field, and of populations. In examining the number and seriousness of the reported cases, the members of the Council have noted the following themes: the universality of certain principles and the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment; impunity; and economic, social and cultural rights. We have suggested these themes on the basis of regional tendencies that emerged during our discussions.
Latin America proposed the theme of economic, social and cultural rights in view of the fact that social and political protests are criminalised, giving rise to acts of torture, ill-treatment and forced disappearance in Central and Latin America. It will be a matter of demonstrating that torture is a generalised practice and response to social and political protests while at the same time initiating actions that will encourage the people, the academic community and all the stakeholders to fight against this practice.
Europe proposed the theme of economic, social and cultural rights in view of the fact that torture is linked to the poverty of certain segments of the population, such as refugees and displaced persons, and ethnic minorities such as the Roma.
Africa stressed the theme of impunity in view of the fact that cases of torture, sometimes resulting in death, occurring in places of provisional detention such as police stations, or during public demonstrations or just arbitrary arrests, are very often closed without follow-up and without the competent authorities having found solutions for the victims or their families.
For the Middle East, emphasis was given to the universality of the principles and the prohibition of torture. Certain observed trends need to be considered: in drafting regional legal instruments, there has been a tendency to disregard obligations under international law, despite the fact that these obligations are clearly contained in the conventions to which these States are parties, in particular, those concerning children and women.
Asia proposed the theme of impunity in view of the fact that even where judicial and police authorities exist, they do not work for the interests of the victims: there are no fair trials.
I could not close my presentation without thanking the staff of OMCT who are present, and especially someone else in the room, the young 25-year-old who wants to retire. I refer to Eric Sottas. Eric, we understand your wish, but we still need you; your illumination. You have guided our steps. I remember the year that I was contacted by OMCT; it was 1993, when the alternative report on children in Senegal was being prepared. It seems like yesterday, and since then we have walked the same path together. We will do our best to carry on the actions of OMCT. In the name of the members of the Council and the SOS-Torture Committee, I give you my warmest thanks.