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Global Campaign to Stop Torture - Focus on priority countries

    Sadly worldwide opinion about the use of torture has become more ambivalent since 9/11.  The Global Campaign Against Torture will, in part, focus on reminding civil society of the existing international prohibitions against torture and of the reasons these are in place.  Amnesty Canada is providing funding for the over-all campaign as well as projects aimed at specific areas of the world.

    This, Amnesty’s largest campaign for 2014/2015, seeks to combat the use of torture worldwide by encouraging governments to adhere to international standards of human rights by introducing safeguards to protect from and punish torture.  It will involve widespread public awareness campaigns, and will also involve the provision of information about the use of torture worldwide to governments, IGOs (e.g. the European Union, African Union and the Inter-American system) and the UN.

    It will insist on lawyers and doctors in places of detention, on states allowing people true access to justice and on accountability for torturers.

    Mexico:

    Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment takes place in policing and public security operations by military and police forces across Mexico. These practices are widespread and are frequently condoned, tolerated or ignored by law enforcement officials, resulting in almost total impunity for abusers and a real fear among the population that arrest for any reason is likely to result in torture

    We will use the Special Rapporteur’s Report on Torture in Mexico to underscore Amnesty’s on-going concerns.  A focus for 2015 will be trying to guarantee the independence of official forensic cervices carrying out medical examinations on torture victims.

    Philippines:

    Although the Philippines Government has ratified the UN Convention on Torture it has not been able to enforce its own laws and standards. Its constitution prohibits the use of torture. Its revised Penal Code criminalizes all acts of torture with corresponding penalties.  Despite this, torture is rampant in the Philippines, as is impunity for those who carry it out. Most torture victims come from disadvantaged backgrounds and include women, juvenile and repeat offenders.  In addition those who have been tortured fear reprisals against their families if they attempt to use the law to bring the perpetrators of torture to justice.

    In 2014 we published Above the Law: Police Torture in the Philippines and contributed to a public inquiry into widespread torture in the country.  We were also able to provide material to victims of torture on how they can access justice.

    Uzbekistan:

    Our research report on Uzbekistan is scheduled for April 2015 publication.  Our focus will be on using the results of the research for public awareness campaigns as well as to inform other foreign governments and other key actors with influence in the area of the violations of international human rights law. Particular emphasis will be made on the use of evidence/confessions which have been extracted under torture or ill-treatment.  Individual cases of the use of torture in the country will be highlighted and will form the basis of membership action.

    2014 saw us complete missions to Turkey and Istanbul.  At the time of a Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) meeting we hosted a side-event “Uzbekistan’s Abuses Under the Spotlight”.  A resolution adopted by the European Parliament on 23 October 2014 included several recommendations in line with our goals.

    Kazakhstan:

    Our research here will document the facts that promote impunity for torture in Kazakhstan, in particular focusing on the lack of independence in the investigation and prosecution of charges of torture.  The research will include a one-week fact-finding mission to Kazakhstan and result in a report on torture in Kazakhstan.

    We work not only to bring an end to torture in Kazakhstan, but also to provide an example of how this can happen for neighboring countries.

    With your support, Amnesty International will:

    • persuade Uzbekistan to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment to visit the country
    • identify and develop individual cases of torture for world-wide action
    • campaign globally to develop the safeguards to protect detainees from being tortured

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