For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
June 26, 2003
Statement by the President
United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
Today, on the United Nations International Day in Support of
Victims of Torture, the United States declares its strong solidarity
with torture victims across the world. Torture anywhere is an affront
to human dignity everywhere. We are committed to building a world
where human rights are respected and protected by the rule of law.
Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. The Convention
Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment,
ratified by the United States and more than 130 other countries since
1984, forbids governments from deliberately inflicting severe physical
or mental pain or suffering on those within their custody or control.
Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes
whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human
spirit. Beating, burning, rape, and electric shock are some of the
grisly tools such regimes use to terrorize their own citizens. These
despicable crimes cannot be tolerated by a world committed to justice.
Notorious human rights abusers, including, among others, Burma,
Cuba, North Korea, Iran, and Zimbabwe, have long sought to shield their
abuses from the eyes of the world by staging elaborate deceptions and
denying access to international human rights monitors. Until recently,
Saddam Hussein used similar means to hide the crimes of his regime.
With Iraq's liberation, the world is only now learning the enormity of
the dictator's three decades of victimization of the Iraqi people.
Across the country, evidence of Baathist atrocities is mounting,
including scores of mass graves containing the remains of thousands of
men, women, and children and torture chambers hidden inside palaces and
ministries. The most compelling evidence of all lies in the stories
told by torture survivors, who are recounting a vast array of sadistic
acts perpetrated against the innocent. Their testimony reminds us of
their great courage in outlasting one of history's most brutal regimes,
and it reminds us that similar cruelties are taking place behind the
closed doors of other prison states.
The United States is committed to the world-wide elimination of
torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all
governments to join with the United States and the community of
law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all
acts of torture and in undertaking to prevent other cruel and unusual
punishment. I call on all nations to speak out against torture in all
its forms and to make ending torture an essential part of their
diplomacy. I further urge governments to join America and others in
supporting torture victims' treatment centers, contributing to the UN
Fund for the Victims of Torture, and supporting the efforts of
non-governmental organizations to end torture and assist its victims.
No people, no matter where they reside, should have to live in fear
of their own government. Nowhere should the midnight knock foreshadow
a nightmare of state-commissioned crime. The suffering of torture
victims must end, and the United States calls on all governments to
assume this great mission.
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