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EU condemns torture, urges global signature of UN treaty on day for victims

[JURIST] The European Union [official website] on Monday condemned all instances of torture, even "on grounds of national security," and called on all countries to sign and follow the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) [text], marking the United Nations' ninth annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture [UN factsheet; UN News report]. In a statement [text], the Austrian presidency of the EU said:

The EU firmly recalls that there is an absolute prohibition placed on the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and that all States must ensure that they do not resort to these barbaric practices. Recalling the Resolution 60/148 adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 2005, the EU reiterates its principled condemnation of any action or attempt by States or public officials to legalise, authorise or acquiesce in torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under any circumstances, including on grounds of national security.

The EU urges all States, which have not yet done so, to become parties to the International Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as a matter of priority and to co-operate with the relevant international mechanisms...

The EU attaches immense importance to the UN's role in fighting torture and supporting victims and underlines its support for the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture, the OHCHR, UNCAT, CPT and other mechanisms making valuable contributions in this field. The EU is continuing to undertake political, diplomatic and financial initiatives to combat torture within the framework of the EU Guidelines against Torture which were adopted by the Council in 2001. All EU Member States co-sponsored and actively supported the drafting and adoption of a resolution against torture at the 60th session of the UN General Assembly. Moreover, the EU adopted on the 27 June 2005 a Regulation which prohibits the export and import of goods whose only practical use is to carry out capital punishment or to inflict torture. The export of goods which could be used for such purposes is also subjected to authorisation by EU Member State authorities. This welcome step will serve to further reinforce the global fight against torture. The EU hopes that other States will introduce similar legislation.
UN figures indicate that 141 states [list] are party to the anti-torture convention, some with reservations and objections, while 74 are signatories.

Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour [official profile] announced [JURIST report] the entry into force of an Optional Protocol [text] to CAT on detention visitations, which will bind the signatories to stronger protections against torture and degrading treatment of detainees. AP has more.

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