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Campaign against Impunity

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Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Bochum e.V.

Netzwerk gegen Straflosigkeit / Red contra la impunidad / Network against impunity

22 – 27 June, The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) will Mark United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (26 June) with a series of Events and Activities

Since 1998, June 26 has been observed as the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, marking the date in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force.

However, 60 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights implored upon the world, that had just witnessed unspeakable atrocities, that "disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind" and that among these barbarous acts is the very act of torture thus declaring that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." Furthermore, 21 years after the Convention Against Torture (CAT) was enacted, 17 years after it entered into force in Israel, and 10 years after this day was first established, torture remains a scourge, infecting the very core democratic societies, which, like their authoritarian counterparts continue to practice torture and ill treatment while trying to hide, deny or justify its practice.

Torture, often euphemized as "moderate physical pressure" or as "enhanced coercive interrogation" must be eliminated and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) is marking June 26th with a week of events and activities.  Calling on Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to join with us and all those for whom human rights and democratic values are sacred to mark this day and declare "No to torture", we were answered with a disappointing response, stating that although the day is important, the Knesset has no time to observe it. We plan to mark the 26th of June by dealing with the painful, poignant and compelling issue of abuse by Israeli soldiers of Palestinian detainees after they are arrested and rendered helpless. We hoped that the Knesset, given the relevance of this issue, would have chosen to mark this day and work with us to eliminate this phenomenon. Such a response is unconscionable and unacceptable yet it does not deter us from raising this issue among Israeli lawmakers and before the Israeli public.
On 22 June will open the week by releasing its newest report, No Defense: Soldier Violence Against Palestinian Detainees to the press and to members of the Knesset. Later that day PCATI, together with B'tselem, will premier a joint internet video condemning torture and paying homage to its victims. This video features the narratives of two victims of torture, one an Israeli POW tortured by the Egyptian security forces over 30 years ago, and one, a Palestinian tortured while under Israeli interrogation just a few years back. On the 25th of June three members of Knesset will make raise an urgent motion, calling on the Knesset to address this issue. On 26 June, PCATI will hold its primary event, a conference, at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. On this same day, in Ramallah, OPT, PCATI and its United Against Torture coalition partners will mark this day as we join in supporting Palestinian victims of torture and ill treatment be it by the Israeli or Palestinian authorities. Finally, on 27 June we will close the week with a "Human Rights Brunch" at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim Conference Centre in Jerusalem. International experts will join local anti torture practitioners and activists in discussing monitoring place of detention and the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which calls for international and domestic impartial monitoring mechanisms.

This day, the 26th of June is more than a day on the local human rights calendar. It is one day where the victim of torture be she or he Israeli or Palestinian can unite with victims the world over, tortured in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, the Jails of India or the basements of the Junta and allow the world community to say, with them, ENOUGH.

Louis Frankenthaler
Development & International Outreach Director
Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)
PO BOX 4634, Jerusalem 91046 Israel
Tel. 972-2-642-9825
Fax. 972-2-643-2847
Impunity is the torturer’s most relished tool. It is the dictator’s greatest and most potent weapon. It is the victim’s ultimate injury. And, it is the international community’s most conspicuous failure. (Mary Margaret Penrose, 1999)

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 Newsletter August 2007 


World Coalition Against Torturers (WCAT)

International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT)

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Manfred Nowak
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture