The declaration of 26 June - International Day in Support of Victims of Torture


On this day, 26 June, as every year, we commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. This year's commemoration is of particular importance. It coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa. 

Twenty years later, we are still faced with a troubling reality: the practice of torture persists in many countries around the world, including in Africa. This is a flagrant violation of human rights that cannot be justified under any circumstances. 

However, the CPTA remains firmly convinced that the prevention of torture is progressing through the adoption of international standards such as the OPCAT as well as non-binding regional standards (soft laws):  52 States Parties to the African Charter have ratified the UNCAT and twenty-four African countries have ratified the OPCAT, facilitating the establishment of National Preventive Mechanisms (NPMs) that play a crucial role in monitoring places of detention and preventing torture.

As the African Union focuses on education this year, we recognize the critical importance of education in preventing torture. Education makes it possible to raise public awareness, promote respect for human rights and establish a culture of reflection and vigilance. It has the potential to illuminate minds, transform attitudes and reshape societies. It is the necessary tool to enable individuals to recognize the signs of torture, to understand the legal and ethical implications of their participation in such acts, and to act towards its prevention.

Complemented by the strict application of the law and a firm commitment to respect for human rights, education raises awareness among prison officers and the general public on the international standards relating to the treatment of prisoners and ethical interrogation techniques. Regional conferences and workshops provide platforms to share best practices and strengthen cooperation among Member States.

It is essential to highlight the continued engagement of national human rights commissions, civil society organizations and NGOs in providing support to victims, documenting cases of torture and advocating for legislative and policy reforms. In 2023, these organizations documented more than 200 cases of torture in Africa, highlighting high-risk areas.

On this International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we reaffirm our commitment to combat this scourge. It is imperative that we maintain our education, training and awareness efforts. Ensuring rigorous implementation of laws and empowering people in positions of authority is equally essential. Together, we can build a more equal Africa, respectful of the dignity of individuals in a future free of torture, where every human is respected and protected.

We call on all African States to take concrete measures to prevent torture. This includes the ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT), the establishment of national preventive bodies, and the cooperation with human rights organizations.