Media Center


Message from OAS Secretary General on International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

  June 26, 2018

Three decades have passed since the international community has approved the judiciary principles for the protection against torture and other inhumane and degrading cruelties.

The American continent did so even before, in 1985, after emerging from one of its darkest, most violent and painful times in its history.

The countries decided to prevent and sanction torture, acknowledging it as the worst crime to human dignity and the negation of the principles and values embodied in Charters of the OAS and the United Nations.

Times change and unfortunately, this abhorrent practice continues to occur in the Americas and the world.

In the Convention we specifically stated that torture is never justifiable, including in the following cases:

“The fact of having acted under orders of a superior shall not provide exemption from the corresponding criminal liability.

The existence of circumstances such as a state of war, threat of war, state of siege or of emergency, domestic disturbance or strife, suspension of constitutional guarantees, domestic political instability, or other public emergencies or disasters shall not be invoked or admitted as justification for the crime of torture.

Neither the dangerous character of the detainee or prisoner, nor the lack of security of the prison establishment or penitentiary shall justify torture”.

In spite of this, there are people who continue to suffer under the worst forms of physical and psychological abuse in our Hemisphere. People who survived and who will be forever marked for being victims of what is unjustifiable. Families that suffered during and after these aberrations.

The loss of respect to human dignity, to human suffering, proves that whoever is infringing it, has lost his or her essence, his or her humanity and ability to be an interlocutor. He or she has lost all legitimacy to exercise power.

Our hemispheric community should not tolerate these practices. To remain silent in front of torture is to be an accomplice to it.

We are all responsible for combating this unfortunate practice. And the only way of doing so is by denouncing and listening to the victims and their families, to their truth, and holding those responsible accountable.

It is the only way to be able to say Never Again consistently.

Reference: S-036/18