Today is Torture Awareness Day, also known as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. In fact, this is the 10th annual International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, as declared by the United National General Assembly in commemoration of the ratification, 20 years ago today, of the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
You would think that the United Nations would make a big deal out of this anniversary in the international campaign against torture. Mysteriously, however, that just hasn’t happened. Although the United Nations has promoted and celebrated the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in the past, this year, it did not do so. The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture did not even earn a placement on the United Nations schedule of events this year.
Why? I’ve spoken to the leaders of many anti-torture organizations, and not one of them was able to explain what’s going on at the United Nations. So, I sent a message to the office of the United Nation’s High Commissioner for Human Rights requesting information about the decision not to observe the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture this year. I received no response.
The United Nations may be avoiding action on Torture Awareness Day this year, but others are stepping in to fill the responsibility. Around the world, people are taking action to confront torture. Here in the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union is part of a coalition of organizations taking part in the Day of Action To Restore Law and Justice with a rally and other activities in Washington D.C.
Can’t make it to Washington D.C. today to take part? There is one simple thing you can do to make a stand against torture: Sign the petition to repeal the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress in 2006 that legalizes torture conducted by the American government.