Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
June 24, 2011

As we mark the anniversary of the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, I join people around the world in honoring the victims of torture, paying tribute to all those who are courageously working to eradicate these inhuman practices from our world, and reaffirming the commitment of the United States to achieving this important goal.

Generations of Americans have understood that torture is inconsistent with our values. Over two decades ago, President Reagan signed, and a bipartisan Senate coalition ratified this landmark document, which affirms the essential principle that under no circumstances is torture ever justified. Torture and abusive treatment violate our most deeply held values, and they do not enhance our national security – they undermine it by serving as a recruiting tool for terrorists and further endangering the lives of American personnel. Furthermore, torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment are ineffective at developing useful, accurate information. As President, I have therefore made it clear that the United States will prohibit torture without exception or equivocation, and I reaffirmed our commitment to the Convention’s tenets and our domestic laws.

As a nation that played a leading role in the effort to bring this treaty into force, the United States will remain a leader in the effort to end torture around the world and to address the needs of torture victims. We continue to support the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, and to provide funding for domestic and international programs that provide assistance and counseling for torture victims. We also remain dedicated to supporting the efforts of other nations, as well as international and nongovernmental organizations, to eradicate torture through human rights training for security forces, improving prison and detention conditions, and encouraging the development and enforcement of strong laws that outlaw this abhorrent practice.

Torture is defined in the UN Convention against Torture as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.” But, social health researchers have offered a wider definition of torture as the systematic and deliberate infliction of severe pain or suffering on a person over whom the actor has no physical control, in order to induce a behavioural response from that person. End.

Tortured by the Ethiopian army in Ogaden – unforgetable

 

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