Press Release

IACHR Urges States to Take Decisive Actions to Prevent Torture

June 26, 2014

Washington, D.C. – On the midst of today’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls upon the members of the Organization of American States (OAS) to strengthen the application of mechanisms designed to prevent torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as the investigation and punishment of such acts, and guaranteeing an adequate reparation for the victims. The Commission also urges the States of the region who have not yet ratified the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture to do so.

The Inter-American Human Rights System has been clear in establishing, through its different stages of proceedings, that torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatments are absolutely prohibited by international human rights law. This prohibition cannot be repealed and there are no exceptions even in situations of war, combat against terrorism or states of emergency or public calamities.

“There is absolutely no reason that can justify torture. No possible scenario makes torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments acceptable. International Human Rights Law states this with absolute clarity, and it has been reaffirmed by the Commission and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights,” said the IACHR President, Commissioner Tracy Robinson. She also stated that “it is vital that States in our region take decisive action that guarantees that no person under their jurisdiction is subjected to torture. The universal ratification of the Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture is one of these actions, as is the adaptation of each country’s national legislation to the international standards established for this matter.” This treaty was adopted in 1985 and since then has been ratified by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Both the Commission and the Inter-American Court have stated that conducting a serious, impartial and thorough ex officio investigation with due diligence is an important part of adequate reparation for victims of torture. It has been established by the jurisprudence of the Inter-American System that it is essential to ensure that reparations include proper care for the physical and psychological injuries suffered by the victims. The IACHR wishes to emphasize the need for each State’s highest authorities send a clear message of complete rejection of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and to ensure that this sort of behavior is eliminated from all security and law enforcement agencies.

The IACHR calls on all members of the OAS to ratify the United Nation’s Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and. The Commission also urges those that have ratified it to effectively implement a national mechanism for prevention, assuring that it has enough resources, independence and institutional support to effectively fulfill its duties.

The Commission stresses the need for States to strengthen their work with regional and international mechanisms to prevent torture and to implement the orders and recommendations rendered by supervisory bodies with a view to consolidating the national systems for protection.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in a personal capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 71/14