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The International Prohibition against Torture Katie Wood Governance Coordinator, Amnesty International Australia.

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Presentation on theme: "The International Prohibition against Torture Katie Wood Governance Coordinator, Amnesty International Australia."— Presentation transcript:

1 The International Prohibition against Torture Katie Wood Governance Coordinator, Amnesty International Australia

2 About Amnesty International  Global movement with 2.8 million supporters in more than 150 countries  We campaign to end grave abuses of human rights wherever they occur  Our vision – for everyone to enjoy all those rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments  Our campaigning work is based on our research work undertaken in countries around the world  Independent of all governments, religious institutions, corporate entities and political parties

3 Why was torture prohibited?  Current understanding post atrocities of WW2  Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading practices are a denial of the victim’s inherent humanity  It is facilitated by detention that is in secret or isolated from contact with the outside world  Used by the State and its agents not only to intimidate, but also to discriminate

4 The international prohibition - definition Torture is: The intentional infliction of severe physical or mental pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing, intimidating or coercing someone.

5 Key International treaties prohibiting torture  Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)  Convention against Torture (CAT)  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)  Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols (part of the laws of war)  Rome Statute (International Criminal Court)

6 Obligations on countries to uphold the prohibition against torture  Condemn all forms of torture and other ill treatment and speak out against governments that perpetrate, are complicit in or fail to act against such abuse  Bring to justice those responsible for authorising and inflicting torture and other ill treatment, as well as provide redress and reparations  Ensure that information obtained by torture cannot be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of abuse as evidence of that abuse.

7 Conflict in Syria – reports of torture Since March 2011 Amnesty International has documented:  The deaths of over 10,000 people  The deaths in custody of more than 276 people (as at March 2012)  31 forms of torture being practised in an organised and systematic way

8 Some torture techniques employed in Syria  Beatings  Cigarette burns  Flesh gouged by pincers  Falaqa (beatings on the soles of the feet)  Stress positions  Exposure to extreme temps  Being subjected to sexual violence  Being subjected to sounds of torture being inflicted on others

9 Testimony from Syria  I had long hair and a beard. They grabbed me by both while beating me hard with their fists, rifle butts and kicking me. One of them grabbed me by my beard and then hit me hard on my throat so I could not breathe. Another guy hit me on the temple with the bottom of his gun. “Mohammed”, 23 year old student from Damascus

10 Testimony from Syria  I also suffered bisat al-rih [flying carpet]. I was on a wooden board like a table, face up, in underpants and blindfolded. I don’t know how the ends are raised but some mechanism makes it go up. I suffered terrible pain on my lower back as the body is forced into a V-shape. And I was beaten at the same time. Three men took it in turns with the kurbaj (whip). When they rested they drink tea, smoke a cigarett until it’s their turn again. It lasts about one hour. “Ghazi”, 22 year old decorator

11 Thank you


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