Juan Méndez Photo source: UN.org
The new UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Professor Juan Mendez, has stated that the perspective of victims of torture must be at the centre of all efforts to implement the UN Convention against Torture (CAT).
Mendez was speaking at an event on Tuesday organised by the IRCT and partners at the United Nations in Geneva which also featured Professor Manfred Nowak, the previous post-holder as a speaker and was moderated by IRCT Secretary-General Brita Sydhof.
Mendez explained that his belief in the victim-centred approach was based both on his own experience as a torture survivor and his many years as an activist and an academic in the human rights field. He explained that prevention activities are more effective if they are informed by torture survivors views on what could have been done to prevent the torture they experienced. He also noted that it is crucial that torture survivors are given a formal role in judicial and truth finding processes.
The Special Rapporteur also highlighted the importance of the use of forensic evidence to combat torture. He stated that without proof, all other protections in the Convention “go out the window”. He also called for an increase in the transfer of technology to the South to help expedite this.
IRCT Secretary-General Brita Sydoff said: “We are extremely grateful to the former Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Manfred Nowak, who consistently used his mandate to promote the rights of survivors of torture. Furthermore, we strongly welcome the fact that the new post-holder, Professor Juan Mendez, has stated his clear intention to take a victim centred approach in all efforts to implement the UN Convention against Torture. The IRCT looks forward to working with the Special Rapporteur on joint efforts to enable victims of torture to better realise their rights.”
Click here for the Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the Sixteenth Session of the UN Human Rights Council, 2011.