Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement marking the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June):
There is an absolute and global legal ban on torture. Despite this, every day, countless people throughout the world are subjected to torture and cruel and inhuman treatment. Torture violates human dignity, brutalises a society and sparks new conflicts.
Today, on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of all forms of torture. The international community must cooperate in its efforts to fight it. This involves prevention, as well as protecting and supporting victims; it also means that states are called on to meet their obligations under international law by investigating allegations of torture, bringing perpetrators to court and ensuring that victims can pursue legal remedies. All of this can be better achieved when we work together at international level and with civil society – more specifically, with human rights activists. We must jointly raise our voices against torture.
Torture is illegal under international law and there are no exceptions. The 1984 UN Convention against Torture defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person when such pain or suffering is caused by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. The definition does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions. It is not limited to physical violence, the deliberate infliction of psychological violence can likewise be a manifestation of torture if it reaches a certain degree of severity. Examples of such torture include sleep deprivation, the threat of force or prolonged solitary confinement.
Germany has ratified the Convention against Torture and its additional protocol and is one of the biggest donors to the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.