June 29, 2015 – This year’s Torture Awareness Month was marked by the success of the Anti-Torture Initiative’s #TortureFreeWorld. Along with its partners, the ATI successfully raised awareness against torture throughout the world by spreading a message of hope and solidarity embodied by #TortureFreeWorld.
For its second edition, the #TortureFreeWorld campaign brought together 6 organizations fighting against torture in over 100 countries: the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), Center for Victims of Torture (CVT), International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), and REDRESS.
The webinar hosted by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez on June 26 to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, led to a productive and stimulating conversation with participants from the OMCT, Redress, the NRCAT and the CVT on focused on “Working Together to Create a #TortureFreeWorld.” You can view the webinar in full on the #TortureFreeWorld website.
Participants in the webinar included:
- Gerald Staberock, Secretary General, World Organizations Against Torture (OMCT)
- Carla Ferstman, Director, REDRESS
- Rev. Laura Markle Downton, Director, U.S. Prisons & Policy Program, National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
- Annie Sovcik, Director, Washington Office, Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)
A coordinated action throughout Torture Awareness Month
Throughout the month, the ATI’s partners held their own events, which were instrumental in contributing to the overall success of the #TortureFreeWorld campaign. Thanks to this coordinated action, the #TortureFreeWorld campaign reached millions of people in more than 90 countries, including seven that are currently the object of the Special Rapporteur’s country visits, namely Georgia, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Morocco, Tunisia.
Those events included:
- A June 22 webinar on “Making justice a reality for torture survivors.” The webinar, hosted by REDRESS featured former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Sir Nigel Rodley and representatives from human rights organizations in Perú, Libya, Kenya and Nepal who discussed the legal cases they are working on, the challenges that they face in their work and the wider impact of torture in their societies. You can view the webinar in full on the REDRESS website.
- A June 24 benefit in honor of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, organized by the CVT in Washington D.C. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture was awarded the CVT’s Eclipse Award in recognition of the work done by the fund in providing financial support to 179 torture survivor rehabilitation programs around the world to rebuild lives after torture. You can learn more about the reception on the CVT website.
A widespread message
The Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez also made several addresses during events hosted by other organizations committed to fighting torture worldwide, further strengthening the links between the ATI and those organizations, and increasing the reach of the #TortureFreeWorld campaign. Those events included:
- A June 24 conference in support torture survivors in Africa and all over the world, organized by TASSC at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. You can learn more about the event on the TASSC website.
- A June 25 conversation on “Legalized Torture: From Guantánamo Bay to Rikers” organized by the Center for Constitutional Rights and its allies Amnesty International USA Mid-Atlantic Region, National Coalition To Protect Civil Freedoms (NCPCF), Witness Against Torture and CODEPINK: Women For Peace. You can learn more about the event on the CCR website.
Once again the #TortureFreeWorld message was adopted and endorsed by organizations worldwide including the United Nations, the European Union, the International Criminal Court. The #TortureFreeWorld website will continue to serve as a platform where torture survivors and human rights activists can share their stories and their view of a #TortureFreeWorld with a view of increasing awareness against torture worldwide.