Not many people would today defend the use of torture. And yet, every day, people are tortured in almost every country of the world. Human beings, of different cultures, ages, or sexes, are raped, beaten or electrocuted by their fellow human beings.
By launching its third Campaign Against Torture, Amnesty International aimed to place the issue of torture in the spotlight, and to give a message of hope that torture is a disease that can be defeated. A key part of that will be the invaluable work done by ordinary people all around the world.
The "Take a Step to Stamp out Torture" campaign, launched in October 2000, aims to achieve progress in three major areas: preventing torture, confronting discrimination and overcoming impunity. On the prevention side, Amnesty International has stressed its efforts in lobbying for the ratification of the UN Convention Against Torture and is now working hard for the adoption of a strong Optional Protocol to the Convention. The organisation has also been challenging political leaders around the word to declare their opposition to torture and to implement measures for preventing torture from happening. Amnesty International is asking governments to implement its 12-Point Programme for the Prevention of Torture by Agents of the State, which brings together the most important measures for preventing torture in custody.
Since the launch of the campaign, Amnesty International has been highlighting the links between discrimination and torture. Letting the public know that people get tortured not only for “what they know” but also for “who they are”, has been one of the top priorities for the human rights organization this year. Amnesty members around the world have been confronting violence against women when it constituted torture, lobbying for action at the UN World Conference against Racism, working to end the torture of children, and campaigning against the torture of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people.
Amnesty International will soon be launching a report on impunity. The report highlights the fact that most torturers commit their crimes safe in the knowledge that they will never face justice. However, things are changing. More governments are now willing to bring torturers to justice, at least those from other countries. The report shows how governments can take the next steps to overcome impunity. Amnesty International's Campaign Against Torture, initially planned to last one year, will now become one of the organizations's ongoing campaigns. A lot has been achieved in the past year. But a lot more needs to be done. The struggle against torture continues, stronger than ever.