Tag: <span>Torture</span>

Torture Education of World Citizenships.

26 June: International Day Against Torture.

Featured Image: Painting in museum DPRK. By AgainErick, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Torture has a bad name among the police and security agencies of most countries. Thus torture is usually called by other names.  Even violent husbands do not admit to torturing their wives.  Thus;  when NGO representatives started to raise the issue of torture in the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva in the early 1980s;  the government representatives replied that it was a very rare practice;  limited to a small number of countries and sometimes a “rogue” policeman or prison guard. 

However;  NGO representatives insisted that, in fact; it was widely used by a large number of countries; including those that had democratic forms of government.

Sean MacBride (1904-1988).

Getting torture to be recognized as a real problem;  and then having the Commission on Human Rights create the post of Special Rapporeteur on Torture; owes much to the persistent efforts of Sean MacBride (1904-1988); at the time the former chairman of the Amnesty International Executive Committee (1961-1974) and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate (1974). MacBride had been the Foreign Minister of Ireland (1948-1951);  and knew how governments work.

However; He had earlier been a long-time leader of the Irish Republican Army (IRA); being the son of John MacBride; an executed leader of the 1916 Easter Rising – an attack on the Dublin Post Office. With his death; John MacBride became an Irish hero of resistance.  Later Sean had spent time in prison accused of murder. He told me that he had never killed anyone;  but as the IRA Director of Intelligence; he was held responsible for the murders carried out by men under his command.  Later, he also worked against the death penalty.

Torture

Seán MacBride. By Bogaerts, Rob / Anefo, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons.

26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

As examples of the current use of torture kept being presented by NGO representatives and as some victims of torture came to Geneva to testify; the Commission on Human Rights named a Special Rapporteur and also started to work on what became the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel  Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Treaty came into effect on 26 June 1987; and in 1997 the UN General Assembly designated 26 June as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Independent Experts.

Human Rights treaties negotiated within the UN create what are known as “Treaty Bodies”; ­ a group of persons who are considered to be “independent experts”. As the saying around Geneva goes; “some are more ‘expert’ than others, and some are more ‘independent’ than others.  Countries which have ratified a human rights convention should make a report every four or five years to the specific Treaty Body. For the Torture Treaty;  it is every four years to the 10-person expert group.

Many States are late, some very late, in meeting this obligation. There are 158 States which have ratified the Torture Convention;  but some 28 States have never bothered to file a report. States which have not ratified the treaty do not make reports.

Concluding Observations.

NGO representatives provide the experts with information in advance and suggest questions that could usefully be asked. The State usually sends representatives to Geneva for the Treaty Body discussions; as the permanent Ambassador  is rarely able to answer specific questions on police and prison conditions. At the end of the discussion between the representative of a State and the experts; the experts write “concluding observations” and make recommendations.

Unfortunately; the Convention is binding only on States.  However; increasingly non-governmental armed militias;  such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq carry out torture in a systematic way. The militia’s actions can be mentioned but not examined by the Treaty Body.

While there is no sure approach to limiting the use of torture; much depends on the observations and actions of non-governmental organizations.  We need to increase our efforts; to strengthen the values which  prohibit torture; and watch closely how persons are treated by the police, prison guards and armed militias.

 

Rene Wadlow, President and a Representative to the United Nations, Geneva, of the Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

Uyghurs Appeals

U.N. Human Rights Report: Spotlight on the Fate of…

Featured Image:  Khotan (Hotan / Hetian) is an oasis city in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Uyghur people at sunday market. By Colegota, CC BY-SA 2.5 ES <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/es/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.

On the final day in office, 31 August 2022, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, presented the long-awaited report on the violations of the human rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim populations of the province of Xinjiang.  The 46-page Report highlights massive detention in camps, torture, sexual violence against women, restriction of religious practices, forced sterilization of women and separation of families.  Many of the facts in the U.N. Report had already been set out by non-governmental human rights organizations (NGOs) such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and in newspaper reports.

The Office of the high Commissioner for Human Rights had been collecting information on the situation since 2018 when Michelle Bachelet became High Commissioner.

Michelle Bachelet

Michelle Bachelet (2018). By Ministerio Secretaría General de Gobierno, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Influence on NGO positions. 

The possible strong impact of the Report will depend in large measure on what pressure NGOs will be able to develop on the Chinese authorities.  Chinese government influence within the U.N. Secretariat has been growing.  Chinese diplomatic pressure on government diplomats within the U.N., always active, has also been growing in part linked to trade and debt consideration.  While Chinese diplomats watch the representatives of NGOs closely during meetings of the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. human rights bodies, the Chinese diplomats have little influence on NGO positions. 

“Re-Education”.

NGOs have developed close links with scholars working on Chinese policies and with a number of research institutes and “think tanks”.  Some of the same NGOs representatives, such as those of the Association of  World Citizens, had earlier been involved with the human rights of Tibetans, often facing the same type of repression and efforts at “re-education”.  The Chinese diplomats at the U.N. have grown in sophistication and must not be underestimated.

However, with the U.N. Report in hand, objective and based on a wide range of observations and interviews, NGOs have a clear avenue for action.  Although the armed conflict in Ukraine and tensions concerning Taiwan draw attention of  governments and NGOs, the Uyghur issues are a test for NGO effectiveness and should be watched closely.

Tibetans

Sakya Monastery, Tibet. Sakya Monastery was founded in 1073, by Konchok Gyelpo and is situated about 130 km west of Shigatse on the road to Tingri. By I, Luca Galuzzi, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Crackdown on Buddhism in Tibet?.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

World Refugee Day.

June 20 is the United Nations (UN)-designated World Refugee Day;  marking the signing in 1951 of the Convention on Refugees. The condition of refugees and migrants has become a “hot”…

1 2 11