A 12-point program to prevent torture by public officialsTorture is a fundamental violation of human rights, and the international community has condemned it as a crime against human dignity, and international law has categorically prohibited it under any circumstances.
Yet it is something that happens every day and in all parts of the earth. It is imperative that direct steps be taken to confront torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment wherever they occur, and work to eliminate them completely.
This is why Amnesty International is appealing to all governments to implement the following 12-point program to prevent torture by public officials. It also calls on the individuals and organizations concerned to work to ensure that governments implement this programme. Amnesty International believes that the implementation of these measures is positive evidence of the commitment of any government to end its torture and to seek its eradication on a global scale.
1- Condemnation of torture
The highest authority in every state must declare its total opposition to torture, and condemn torture without reservation whenever it occurs. It must also make it clear to all members of the police, military and other security forces that it will never allow torture to be practiced.
2. Ensure access to prisoners
Torture often occurs when prisoners are held incommunicado and unable to contact anyone who can help them or know what is happening to them. Therefore, the practice of holding prisoners incommunicado should cease. Governments should ensure that all prisoners are brought before an independent judicial body promptly after their detention and allow relatives, lawyers and doctors the right to contact detainees immediately and periodically.
3- Not holding detainees in secret places
Torture in some countries takes place in secret locations, in many cases after the victims’ “disappearance” has been declared. Therefore, governments must ensure that prisoners are held only in officially recognized places of detention and promptly provide accurate information about their detention and where they are being held to their relatives, lawyers and the courts. Effective judicial means should be provided at all times by which relatives and lawyers of prisoners can immediately know where they are being held, the authority detaining them, and ensure their safety.
4- Availability of adequate safeguards during detention and interrogation
All prisoners should be immediately informed of their rights, including the right to lodge any complaint about their treatment and the right to have a judge rule without delay on the legality of their detention. Judges must investigate any evidence of torture and order the prisoner’s release if his detention is unlawful. A lawyer should be present with the detainee during the interrogation. Governments should also ensure that conditions of detention comply with international standards for the treatment of prisoners and take into account the needs of members of particularly vulnerable groups. The authority responsible for detention should be separate from the authority responsible for interrogation, and independent inspectors should make periodic, unannounced and unfettered visits to all places of detention.
5- Torture is prohibited by law
Governments should enact laws to prohibit and prohibit torture that include key elements of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Convention against Torture) and other relevant international standards. All corporal punishments, whether judicial or administrative, should be abolished. The prohibition of torture and the necessary safeguards for its prevention may not be suspended, whatever the circumstances, even in cases of war or public emergency.
6- Investigation of allegations of torture
All complaints and allegations of torture should be promptly investigated in an impartial and effective manner, by a body independent of those accused of torture. The methods used in this investigation and the results obtained should also be announced. Officials suspected of torture should also be suspended from their duties during the investigation. Complainants, witnesses, and others at risk must be protected from any intimidation or reprisals they may face.
Those responsible for torture must be brought to justice. This principle applies wherever the torture took place and whatever the nationality or status of the perpetrators, regardless of the place where the crime was committed and the nationality of the victims, and without regard to the time that has elapsed since the commission of the crime. Governments should exercise universal jurisdiction over or extradite those accused of torture to countries that can prosecute them, and cooperate with each other in such criminal proceedings. Trials should be fair and courts should never accept orders from higher-ranking officers as a justification for torture.
8 – Invalidity of statements extracted under torture
Governments should ensure that statements and evidence obtained through torture are not used in any judicial proceedings, except when used against a person accused of torture.
9- Providing effective training for employees
All personnel involved in the custody, interrogation, and medical care of prisoners must be made clear during their training that torture is a criminal act, and that they should understand that they have the right and even duty to refuse to carry out all orders of torture.
Victims of torture and their dependents should be guaranteed the right to promptly obtain compensation from the state, including restitution of their rights and fair and adequate financial compensation, and to provide them with the necessary medical care and means of rehabilitation.
11- Ratification of international treaties
All governments should ratify, without reservations, international treaties that contain safeguards against torture, including the “Convention against Torture” and make the necessary declarations that guarantee the right of individuals and states to lodge complaints. Governments must comply with the recommendations of international bodies and experts on torture.
12- Take on the international responsibility
Governments should use all available means to mediate with the governments of countries accused of torture. It should also ensure that it does not facilitate providing training and equipment to other countries for the use of torture by military, security or police personnel. Governments should not forcibly return anyone to a country where they would be at risk of torture.
Amnesty International adopted this 12-point program in October 2000 as a program of measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment of people while in government custody or in the hands of state officials in one form or another. Amnesty International calls on governments to fulfill their international obligations to prevent and punish torture, whether they are state officials or other individuals. Amnesty International also opposes forms of torture perpetrated by armed political groups.