Joint Declaration by the AU and by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on the UN international day in support of victims of torture

EU website. On June 26, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the African Union and the European Union reaffirm their commitment to the global eradication of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to the full rehabilitation of torture victims. The absolute prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is unequivocally established under international law.

Recalling the Resolution 64/153 adopted by the UN General Assembly on 18 December 2009 and the Resolution 13/L.19 adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 26 March 2010, the African Union and the European Union reiterate that States must take persistent, determined and effective measures to prevent and combat all acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. They urge States to ensure respect for the critical role that judges, prosecutors and lawyers play in the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including with respect to arbitrary detention, due process safeguards and fair trial standards, and bringing perpetrators to justice.

The African Union and the European Union call upon all States, which have not yet done so, to become parties to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to its Optional Protocol (OPCAT), and to recognise the competence of the Committee against Torture to receive and consider individual communications. States must take determined and effective measures, including legal reform, to prevent and combat torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The OPCAT represents an important contribution to achieving independent and effective torture preventive mechanism both at the national and international level. As the first international instrument, OPCAT seeks to prevent torture and other forms of ill-treatment through the establishment of a system of regular visits to places of detention carried out by independent international and regional bodies. The African Union and the European Union emphasise that all States shall ensure that victims of torture obtain redress and have an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. All States are urged to do their utmost to ensure the restoration of the dignity and humanity of victims of torture, who often suffer from long-term physical
injuries and post-traumatic stress disorders, which require specialised and long-term rehabilitation assistance.

The African Union and the European Union strongly advocate that torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishments should be absolutely prohibited in all circumstances.

The European Union continues to support diplomatically, politically and financially the fight against torture within the framework of the EU Guidelines against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Special attention is given to the rehabilitation of victims of torture through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.

The African Union and the European Union recognise the leading role of the UN in fighting torture and supporting victims and underline their support for the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Committee against Torture, the Subcommittee for Prevention of Torture and the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture.

The African Union and the European Union express their appreciation and support to the work undertaken by regional mechanisms, in particular the Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa and the Council of Europe Committee for the Prevention of Torture, and urge States to implement their recommendations.

The African Union and the European Union commend the persistent efforts by many NGOs and welcome the recommendations of the first EU-AU civil society human rights dialogue, held in Brussels on the 16 and 17th of April 2009, which called for the fight against torture to be a priority of the cooperation between the two continents. We also take note that participants called for a full implementation of the Resolution on Guidelines and Measures for the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture, Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Africa (the Robben Island Guidelines) and of the EU Guidelines on torture. The African Union and the European Union are determined to
strengthen their cooperation in the fight against torture.

The African Union and the European Union commit to continue and intensify their efforts to secure a world free from torture.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and the EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, members of the European Economic Area, as well as
Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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