THE BLOG

June 26 -- Honoring the Strength and Spirit of Torture Survivors

06/23/2014 08:05 am ET | Updated Aug 23, 2014

On June 26, people around the world will unite to celebrate International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. On this day in 1987, the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect. We commemorate this very special occasion by honoring torture survivors everywhere and rededicating ourselves to ending torture.

This year is particularly notable because December 10, 2014, marks the 30th anniversary of when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention Against Torture.

Shockingly, the deliberate and systematic scourge of torture continues to be used by brutal and repressive regimes to control populations, extract information, stifle dissent, and suppress emerging movements. But it is also used in countries across the political spectrum. Amnesty International recently announced it has received reports of torture and other ill-treatment in 141 countries from every region of the world over the past five years. In countries where the Center for Victims of Torture works, we see firsthand the devastating and crippling impact of torture on individuals, families, and communities.

Even after such terrible experiences, we know that healing is possible. At the center of that healing are the strength and spirit of survivors working hard every day to reclaim their lives shattered at the hands of their torturers. These courageous survivors seek to overcome their pain and suffering so they may participate and contribute fully to their families and communities.

However, they often cannot do it alone.

Torture survivor rehabilitation programs providing skilled and culturally appropriate care are effective in helping torture survivors recover and rebuild meaningful lives of dignity. Unfortunately, our resources are stretched. International support for torture survivor rehabilitation services must increase to meet the needs of the global number of survivors that keeps growing.

In observance of International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we encourage all concerned individuals worldwide to call on their governments to urge them to make funding for torture survivor rehabilitation a top humanitarian priority. Countries who are parties to the Convention Against Torture, including the United States, should be urged to fulfill their legal and moral obligations to provide survivors "as full a rehabilitation as possible" and to fully and promptly investigate all credible allegations of torture and cruel treatment.

We also invite you to join us in celebrating the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture by spreading messages of hope, comfort, or support to survivors. Ways to send your messages are here, or you can include them in the comments field below. We'll share your words with those survivors at rehabilitation projects around the globe.

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a testament to the power of healing and the resilience of torture survivors. It is a day to show our respect for and solidarity with them. It is a day to let them know they are not forgotten.