The EU firmly believes that the absolute ban on torture is one of the cornerstones of the universal human rights framework and recalls that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, be they a state of war, acts of terrorism, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture or any other form of ill-treatment. All States have a duty to ensure that individuals are not exposed to the risk of such treatment. States must undertake independent and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment, provide redress to the victims, prosecute the perpetrators and ensure that such crimes do not take place. The EU reiterates its condemnation of any action aimed at legalising or authorising torture and ill-treatment and calls on all States consistently to uphold the fundamental right to freedom from torture.
The EU urges all States which are not yet parties to accede without further delay to the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. It is an instrument which provides the international community with global measures for the protection of freedom from torture. States parties are inter alia obliged to incorporate the crime of torture into their domestic law and to punish torture where it occurs appropriately. Moreover, UNCAT establishes a regime under which reports have to be submitted by States parties in a timely and complete manner and where individual as well as inter-State communications can be examined to monitor implementation at the national level. The EU welcomes the ratification of UNCAT over the past year by Andorra, Montengro, and San Marino.
The EU has furthermore warmly welcomed the entry into force in 2006 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention (OPCAT). By providing for a mechanism for independent, international visits, the Protocol strengthens the international anti-torture framework. Openness and transparency are essential factors in combating torture. As the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has repeatedly stated, the inspection of places of detention constitutes one of the most effective preventive measures against torture. The establishment of independent national and international monitoring mechanisms under OPCAT should have a decisive effect in eliminating the barbaric practice of torture. The EU therefore strongly encourages all States to consider signing and ratifying OPCAT as a matter of priority. The EU welcomes the ratification of OPCAT over the past year by Armenia, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Liechtenstein, Moldova, New Zealand, Peru, Senegal, Serbia and Ukraine.
The EU strongly supports the primary role of the United Nations in fighting torture and supporting torture victims worldwide, in particular the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Committee against Torture, the newly established Sub-Committee on Prevention of Torture, the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture and the OHCHR. The EU also commends the regional monitoring bodies, including the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), for their valuable contributions. It is essential that all states cooperate in good faith with the UNSR on torture and the other international monitoring mechanisms.
The daily work of these institutions is complemented by a multitude of civil society actors, working tirelessly to raise public awareness of torture, including prevention of torture and rehabilitation of torture victims. The EU takes this opportunity to pay tribute to the unrelenting efforts by the many NGOs and individuals working determinedly and diligently for the prevention of torture and to alleviate the suffering of victims. The EU also welcomes the pivotal role played by torture rehabilitation centres worldwide. The EU is determined to maintain its leading role in supporting civil society activities against torture worldwide and recalls that the prevention of torture and the rehabilitation of torture victims remain priorities for funding under the new European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
The EU is determined to intensify its efforts, particularly its political, diplomatic and financial initiatives undertaken in the framework of its Guidelines against Torture. The EU stands ready to work with all interested partners towards the objective of securing 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.