Message on the occasion of June 26 – UN International Day In Support of Victims of Torture
Not a single week passes by, without media reports of complaints regarding the way in which the police members are keen to “communicate” with the citizens. In the wake of this UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a father and a son complained to the press that the police have beaten them, only because they did not want to show their IDs!
Exactly one year ago, Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture has suggested to our Government: “In the light of the persistent failure by the national authorities to address certain fundamental shortcomings in the treatment and conditions of detention of persons deprived of their liberty, the President of the CPT informed the national authorities, by letter dated 19 December 2007, of the decision of the Committee to set in motion the procedure provided for in Article 10, paragraph 2, of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.“ This distinguished Committee of the Council of Europe rarely decides to undertake such step. By a rule, this is an expression of utter dissatisfaction with the authorities of one state. This threat is still valid for the FYROM.
The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the FYROM for the third year in a row receives support from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture for its activities related to the victims of torture in our state. When we applied and we received the Fund’s support for the first time we were the only NGO from the FYROM, but in the following years other non-governmental organizations also received this support. One of the preconditions we had to meet to get the support was to submit ten cases of victims of torture processed according to the international standards – the first year we submitted cases gathered from several years, but afterwards we only referred to the cases from the previous year…
And in the period between last and this year’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Committee has registered new, severe cases of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Moreover, all our complaints, including the criminal charges, on this cases submitted by the Helsinki Committee to the competent bodies were fully ignored.
Since the beginning of 2009 we started the realization of the project on enhancement of the social supervision of the prisons in the FYROM by strengthening the role of the national and specialized bodies of that supervision. We just held the first round table on this topic. We examined the conditions in our jails, but also the cases of torture. Although in the next two years of the project realization we have to go a long way, even now it is more than clear that we will have to pay due attention to the issue of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in the jails finding out appropriate forms for alarming the public due to a simple reason that what happens in the jails is below the elementary human dignity and is a type of continued, highly concerning violation of basic human rights.
At the end of last year, the Parliament ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Unfortunately, in the past months we did not see any signs that the fight against corruption has been stronger or that the ratification of the Protocol has helped those fighting against it.
The observation of this year’s UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture has highlighted the increased risk of persons with disabilities, who continue to run an falling victim to abuse and neglect: involuntarily confined for long periods, at times without legal basis and proper review mechanisms and in inadequate conditions; they are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse, including sexual abuse inside the home, at the hands of family members, caregivers, health professionals and members of the community. In addition, these persons are subject to medical trials and harmful and degrading medical treatment, without their knowledge. Unfortunately, we know little or are not aware of this problem in our country, so the prevention of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment against this highly sensitive category of citizens is missing.
Regretfully, in this occasion we have to note that the torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is not only present among us, as we said a year ago, but what is worse we are getting used to this reality and are becoming insensitive of its presence.
Skopje, 26 June 2009
 On 12 December 1997, on the 10th anniversary since the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment entered into force, the UN General Assembly with Resolution 52/149 marked the historic date – 26 June – as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
 Article 10, paragraph 2, reads as follows: “If the Party fails to co-operate or refuses to improve the situation in the light of the Committee’s recommendations, the Committee may decide, after the Party has had an opportunity to make known its views, by a majority of two-thirds of its members to make a public statement on the matter”.
The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the FYROM
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