Press Release

On the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the IACHR calls for the eradication of all acts of torture against persons deprived of their liberty.

June 26, 2019

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Washington, DC—To mark the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on the member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) to eradicate all acts of torture, particularly those against people who are deprived of their liberty.

The IACHR has pointed out that there are many circumstances in which people deprived of their liberty may suffer violations of their rights to personal integrity. However, over the years and through its different mechanisms, the IACHR has warned that most acts of torture and ill-treatment against people in state custody take place at the time of arrest and during the first few hours or days they are in detention. This pattern has been analyzed by both the IACHR and the Inter-American Court, and by different UN mechanisms for protection. Consequently, as a preventive measure, the IACHR stresses that States need to ensure that training for law enforcement officers and prison guards emphasizes the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.

The IACHR reiterates that both physical and psychological torture are categorically prohibited. This prohibition cannot be repealed nor is it subject to exceptions of any kind, even during war, as part of the fight again terrorism, or other public emergencies. Both the IACHR and the Court have established that in cases of torture or any situation where there is reason to believe that torture was committed, full reparation requires States to conduct a serious, impartial, exhaustive, ex officio investigation with due diligence. Likewise, any reparation measures implemented must be appropriate to the physical and psychological suffering that victims experienced.

“Over the course of this year, we have worked especially hard to reinforce the IACHR’s commitment to helping victims of torture. As of February 2019, the mandate of the Rapporteurship that I lead also includes the prevention and combating of all forms of torture,” said Commissioner Joel Hernández, Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of their Liberty and for the Prevention and Combating of Torture.

“Visits by independent national or international mechanisms to investigate or document the situation of people who are deprived of their liberty contribute to preventing torture and ill-treatment,” said IACHR President Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño. “This is why we are emphasizing the need for States in the region to strengthen the way they work with these mechanisms in order to prevent such acts from taking place, and to adopt the necessary measures to comply with these recommendations,” she added.

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 and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 161/19