The absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment enshrined at international level in core UN human rights conventions is reflected at EU level in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment’.
The EU is firmly committed to the absolute prohibition of all forms of ill-treatment and actively seeks to ensure that third countries share this view. Its Guidelines against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment serve to protect and promote human rights in third countries. Adopted in 2001 and revised in 2008, the Guidelines do not create new legal obligations, but are the expression of a political commitment to carry out systematic and sustained action in the fight against torture.
The Guidelines foresee the use of all available tools of diplomacy and cooperation in pursuit of the EU’s objectives, most notably political dialogue, diplomatic representations and assistance to NGO projects through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
Political dialogue is an opportunity for the EU to call on individual countries – either confidentially or publicly – to ratify or implement international agreements. The EU also takes up individual cases when appropriate.
At international level the EU sponsors an annual resolution on torture at the UN General Assembly, while at home measures are in place to prevent the use, production and trade of equipment designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the EU also supports civil society groups working to end torture or rehabilitate torture victims. Previous projects have included awareness-raising of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, investigations into the supply of torture technology, and the development of torture prevention and monitoring networks.