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30 years of broken promises: it's time to stop torture

Electric shocks to the genitals. Cigarette burns. Being punched and beaten. Deprived of food and water. Your family threatened with the same if you don’t confess.

Despite a global ban, three quarters of the world’s governments are still torturing and they’re still lying about it. Over the past five years, we have reported on torture in 141 countries and from every region in the world.

Take Claudia Medina from Mexico. She was woken at 3am when marines broke into her home. She was blindfolded, her hands were tied and she was taken to a local naval base where she was beaten, kicked and given electric shocks. She was forced to sign a statement which she was not allowed to read.

Her supposed crime? She was accused of being in a criminal gang. An allegation she strongly denies. Claudia’s is just one story amongst many that Amnesty has uncovered.

Thirty years ago, in 1984, we successfully campaigned for the historic UN Convention Against Torture. Today this barbaric and inhumane practice is outlawed throughout the world. But governments continue to torture: to extract information (despite evidence suggesting the information extracted isn’t reliable), to silence dissent and simply as an act of cruel punishment.

Torture thrives where there are no safeguards to prevent it. If, like Claudia, you’re being interrogated in detention without the presence of a lawyer, you’re more likely to be tortured or mistreated in the quest for a confession or compliance. Likewise a police station that refuses access to independent lawyers or a judge that accepts evidence obtained under torture. No one is safe when governments allow torture to occur.

After 30 years of broken promises, a global ban on torture is sadly not enough. To prevent torture happening, we need to make sure police and others with power fear the consequences for their actions. That lawyers are present and doctors can examine those held, to stop torture happening behind closed doors.

That’s why we’ve launched our new Stop Torture campaign: we must do more to protect people from torture and to hold those responsible to account. Over the next two years we’ll focus on five torture offenders: Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Philippines and Uzbekistan. In each of these countries torture is a major concern but we believe that global pressure could make people like Claudia safer, and bring torturers to justice.

Governments are clearly not going to stop themselves torturing. They will only stop when they are exposed and when individuals like you and I stand up to them.

The Stop Torture campaign will only be as strong as the collective might of those who support it. Please join the campaign now, so that together we can stop torture.

Join our live Q&A and hear from the experts

Finally, as part of our launch this week we’re speaking to survivors of torture, their lawyers and campaigners at an event tomorrow evening. If you’re in London you can join us, or if not you can watch it live on youtube. We’d like your questions for our panel – about torture generally, their experiences or our campaigning. Leave your question in the comments, or send them to us on twitter using #StopTortureQ


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About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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1 comment

How are countries that freely use torture educated gradually to stop and use more benevolent forms of questioning?

britt1111 9 years ago