For more than 10 years now 26 June is the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture for the world community.
Traditionally, various public rallies, actions, activities, campaigns are organized on this day to support victims of unlawful violence and attract public attention to the problem of tortures. International day in Support of Victims of Torture was proclaimed on 12 December 1997 by a special UN General Assembly resolution.
On this day each year the Interregional Committee against Torture tries to draw attention to the problem of tortures in law enforcement bodies of the regions where it is present. This time in Orenburg region there will be picketing in front of the Prosecutor’s Office, in Chechnya there will be a joint press-conference with the Republican Ombudsman, there will be two more press-conferences in Yoshkar-Ola and Ufa.
As for Nizhny Novgorod, there was quite an unfortunate situation. This year the Committee expressed its intention to organize picketing in Teatralnaya Square (Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street) and in accordance with law, notified the city administration thereof. The Committee guaranteed public tranquility.
However, it obtained a refusal to approve the location of the picket. This is how the city administration motivated the refusal: first, a lot of activities in Minin and Gorky squares and in Bolshaya Pokrovskaya Street “cause public discontent and admonitions addressed to the city administration”; second, “it is hard to ensure the required safety of the picket participants and other citizens”. The Mayor’s Office suggested that the picket should be conducted in some other district, but for Nizhegorodsky.
Here we would like to say the following. Since the moment of its creation the Committee against Torture has many times conducted such activities in connection with the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, some of them were organized in Minin and Gorky squares. These actions have never led to violation of public order, they were peaceful and civilized. In this respect the Committee against Torture has gained very good reputation. Thus, apparently, the city authorities ignored the information about the number of participants (30), duration of the picket (2 hours), its aims, and guarantees of public order. Therefore, the decision of the administration prohibiting the picket in the location selected by the Committee causes astonishment, leastwise. The Committee against torture has already appealed against this decision to court.
We find it legitimate to conduct a picket in the place we have chosen. The Interregional Committee against Torture pursues peaceful aims only, and, we hope, is useful for the society and the state. We are sure that the burning problem of police abuse requires attention and reaction from as many Nizhny Novgorod citizens as possible.
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (in French – Journée internationale des Nations unies pour le soutien aux victimes de la torture) was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 12 December 1997 in a special resolution (№ 52/149). According to the resolution, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is proclaimed “with a view to the total eradication of torture and the effective functioning of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment “of 1984.
We would like to remind you that this Convention is the chief international treaty in the sphere of torture prevention. It was ratified by more than 120 countries. The Convention of 1984 created the so called universal jurisdiction in respect of tortures. This means that responsible for tortures can be prosecuted by any state irrespective of their citizenship and locale of the crime. Besides, the Convention gives the best definition of torture.
Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as follows:
“Torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
To monitor observance of the Convention the UN Committee against Torture was created, it started working on 1 January 1988.