The use of torture leaves tens, even hundreds of thousands of victims heavily traumatized with severe and long lasting mental and physical injuries, and destroys families and entire communities, Cameroon’s Mr. Basil Tifu Ajuo said.
Mr. Ajuo was presenting a paper on “The Prevention of Torture in Africa” during the recently concluded 49th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Banjul, The Gambia.
On behalf of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), Mr. Ajuo said it is their observation that torture remains a pressing issue of grave human rights violations in Africa, despite the absolute prohibition.
“We can document that torture is still used in many African countries, particularly in places of detention. We alarmed about the increase of torture cases especially the rampant use of sexual violence as a form of torture in massive conflict situations. Victims that are vulnerable are children, women, refugees and internally displaced persons,” he said.
According to him, only 10 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, DRC, Gabon, Liberia, Mali, Mauritius, Niger, Senegal and Togo) have ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
Based on this, he exhort the African Commission to urge States to fully implement their obligations under International law, which should include the criminalization of torture in domestic laws and increased focus on the needs and rights tortured of victims.
He also urged the African Commission to ensure that State Parties set up effective mechanisms in close consultation with civil society and make places of detention known and accessible to monitoring.
In this light, he said the Commission should also set up mechanism to monitor the compliance of states with regards to their obligations under regional and international instruments with regards to torture.
He noted that some member states to IRCT provide holistic support to rehabilitation centers, whereas in some other countries, specialized medical, psychological, social and legal service are not available to torture survivors.
“Rehabilitation centres work under extremely challenging circumstances, face security threats from States and non-State agents, and work with limited financial and human resources,” he revealed on May 7, 2011.
While noting that most allegations of torture are not reported or properly investigated and the perpetrators are not held accountable, this creates a culture of impunity and allows torture to continue unpunished.
“Torture methods are increasingly designed to have maximum impact while leaving minimal detectable signs. We are greatly concerned that in many African States psychological forms of torture and the detrimental impact on the mental health of victims are not recognized.”
Nonetheless, he said countries like Uganda (investigating allegations of torture), the DRC (criminalizes torture) and Cameroon (signed OPCAT) has made successes in the fight against torture.
The IRC T is a global umbrella organization for torture rehabilitation centers, providing health treatment and other forms of support to torture survivors. It comprises of 146 Member Centers worldwide of which 25 are in African. Its mission is to enhance health-based rehabilitation services for torture survivors; facilitate torture victims’ access to justice; and contribute to the prevention of torture. Source - The Voice