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UN urges international community to stop torture, aid victims

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] on Wednesday urged member states to intensify measures against torture [statement] in commemoration of the UN's 15th annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (IDSVT) [official website]. Ban also encouraged member states to recognize the 25th anniversary of the UN Committee Against Torture [official website], which he characterized as "vital" to furthering a "victim-oriented approach" to stopping torture. Ban further urged member states to "accede to and fully implement" a UN resolution adopted earlier this year which focuses on the rehabilitation of torture victims. In addition, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] marked IDSVT by calling on member states [statement] to "fulfill their obligations" with respect to ensuring that torture victims can obtain "redress and rehabilitation for the suffering they have endured." The OHCHR emphasized the importance of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture [UN backgrounder], which provides support to organizations that contribute humanitarian, medical and legal assistance to torture victims. According to the UN donations have dropped nearly 30 percent in the last five years. The OHCHR estimates that the fund supports between 50,000 and 70,000 victims.

Torture and ill-treatment of individuals remain problems throughout the international community. On Wednesday Human Rights Watch accused Lebanese police forces [JURIST report] of targeting and torturing drug users, sex workers and members of LGBT communities. In June 2012 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marked IDSVT by urging the international community to take measures to stop torture [JURIST report] by numerous states against their own citizens. In June 2010 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay commemorated IDSVY by warning [JURIST report] those who practice torture that they cannot escape the reach of justice. In June 2008 Amnesty International marked IDSVT by protesting [JURIST report] in front of the European Parliament in Brussels. In June 2006 the European Union condemned [JURIST report] all instances of torture, even "on grounds of national security," to mark the ninth annual IDSVT.

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