Wednesday, 26 June, is International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. It is the day that the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) came into force in 1987. The day is used across the world to advocate for strategies to eradicate torture and to prosecute its perpetrators while working to promote the right to rehabilitation for torture survivors.
This June 26, the South African No Torture Consortium (SANToC) with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) are hosting a round table to explore the continuing use of torture by state officials in South Africa and actions that can be taken to eradicate these practices within the country in the light of the recent passing by Parliament of the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Bill. The bill is currently awaiting Presidential assent.
The testimonies of community members who suffered the humiliation of a recent, brutal, early morning unannounced raid on their shelters in the Lonehill area of Johannesburg North and their cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment will serve as the focal point for the discussions.
Organisations working for the rehabilitation of torture survivors point out how pervasive practices of torture still are across the world with torture being used as ‘for the purpose of punishing people; of obtaining information from them or of extracting a confession; of taking revenge; of seeking to create terror and fear within a particular population, or of expressing discrimination against a marginalised group.’
The organisations which comprise SANToC are Khulumani Support Group, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, the Trauma Centre for Victims of Torture and Trauma, the Institute for the Healing of Memories and the Solidarity Peace Trust. All are involved with dealing with the lifelong consequences of torture on victims. Of particular concern is the lack of provision for the rehabilitation of torture survivors in the soon to be signed ‘Torture Bill’ in South Africa.
For more information, please call: Ms Anna Moyo (CSVR) on 072 945 8145 or Dr Marjorie Jobson (Khulumani Support Group) on 082 268 0223.