Survivors Speak OUT addresses high level event at the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva

Survivors Speak OUT coordinator Kolbassia Haoussou has delivered a speech at a high level side event at the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva encouraging countries to ratify and implement the UN Convention Against Torture and its optional protocol before 2024.

The event was organised by the Convention Against Torture Initiative (CTI) which aims to achieve universal ratification and implementation of UNCAT. Also on the high level panel were the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Denmark and Tunisia and other government ministers from Uganda, Vietnam, Chile and Morocco.

In his speech Kolbassia told delegates:

"As many of my brothers and sisters cross through the doors of Freedom from Torture to be cared for, I have not only witnessed the incredible life-changing work of the organisation but also the evils of the world we live in.

"I hope all of us gathered here today agree that torture is wrong - both in practice and in law. Torture destroys communities; it can break families apart and it can destroy you ... that is if you let it.

"We are all complicit in torture if we remain silent. Our silence grants perpetrators impunity for their crimes, giving them power to continue torturing of others. We must reject the falsehood that survivors of torture are to blame for the crimes of the perpetrator and shift the stigma - it is their shame, not ours

"We can only shatter the culture of impunity by holding perpetrators to account for their crimes – that is why ratification and implementation of UNCAT and the optional protocol is essential – your actions must be meaningful.

"Torture stands in absolute opposition to freedom. It removes choice and the voice of the victim and enslaves our mental and physical well-being to a catalogue of violations and humiliation.

"Allowing just one act of torture anywhere sanctions its use everywhere. It diminishes the authority of any state to act as guardian of its citizens by giving the clear message that human rights no longer matter. Commanded, conducted or condoned with impunity, torture reinforces continuing cycles of violence and lawlessness."