This meeting organized by the European Union serves the purpose to commemorate the victims of torture. In the opening remarks, EU ambassador, Mr. João Vale de Almeida, condemned torture as an unbearable crime. He pointed out that women and children are particularly targeted and thus he called for the need to bring persecutors to justice. He also highlighted that torture is a phenomenon that requires global actions, such as continuous dialogues with partners at regional and international levels. In this regard, he expressed the gratitude to Argentinian and Mongolian governments for their cooperation with the EU in launching Alliance for Torture-Free Trade. To show support, Mr. Martin Garcia Moritán from Argentina urged all UN member states to ratify the convention against torture and encouraged its implementation.
A discussion took place after the remarks. It focused on how to argue persuasively that torture is illegal and counterproductive. The reason behind the need to curb torture, as Ms. Julia Hall emphasized, lies in the harm that it brings to people both physically and psychologically. Agreeing with it, Mr. Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, underlined that it is important to persuade politicians who support torture, as they influence public opinion. He stressed on two points. Firstly, the information given by victims under torture could be inaccurate. Secondly, torture undermines the legitimacy of the government. Overall, he indicated the ineffectiveness of torture. Aside from abandoning torture, Mr. Allen Keller from New York University focused his remarks on rehabilitation of the victims. He introduced how his program at NYU provides comprehensive medical, psychological, and legal services to victims. In the end, a victim of torture from the Democratic Republic of Congo shared his personal experience of rebuilding trust in people thanks to the program.
Meeting: Event entitled “Towards a Torture-Free World: Strategies for Prevention and Victim Support” (on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture)
Date/Location: Tuesday 26th June 2018; 11:00-12:30; Conference Room 12, United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY.
Mr. Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights;
H.E. Mr. João Vale de Almeida, Ambassador and Head of EU Delegation to the UN;
H.E. Mr. Martin Garcia Moritán, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN;
H.E. Ms. Altangerel Guamaral, Deputy Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the UN;
Ms. Julia Hall, Expert of Amnesty International;
Mr. Allen S. Keller, M.D., Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture.
Written by WIT Representative Vivian Wang