Blog of Rights

Torture 101

By Ateqah Khaki at 3:55pm

Pop quiz! This Friday, June 26 is:

A: International Day in Support of Torture Victims
B: The U.N. anniversary of the day the Convention Against Torture came into effect
C: A day to take action and demand accountability for torture
D: All of the above

If you answered "D," you are correct!

The Convention Against Torture (CAT) is the most important international human rights treaty that deals exclusively with torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.  The treaty went into effect on June 26, 1987, and was ratified by the U.S. in 1994. Countries that have signed the treaty are obligated to prohibit and prevent torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in all circumstances. The treaty also compels governments who ratified it to investigate all allegations of torture, to bring to justice the perpetrators, and to provide a remedy to victims of torture.

In this new video, Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU's Human Rights Program, explains more about international legal standards — including CAT — that criminalize acts of torture, as well as the United States' obligations to seek accountability for torture.

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Given the significance of this date, June 26 has also been named as International Day in Support of Torture Victims, a day to demonstrate solidarity with victims of torture.  Although the U.S. once led the fight against torture around the world, this June 26 we face a different challenge — one that requires this country to face the facts and come to terms with the reality of this country's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" and the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody that took place over the last eight years.

We hope you'll join us by taking action on June 26 (stay tuned for details), because if we don't demand accountability for the crimes that were in committed in our name, who will?

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