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Torture is one of the most serious human rights violations and an inconceivable outrage against human dignity. For this reason, acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment are banned at all times and in all circumstances, including in times of war. On the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we shall remember our responsibility to prevent acts of torture, to bring the perpetrators to justice and to stand with the survivors of torture.
Over 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, unequivocally enshrined in Article 5 that "[n]o one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment". Ever since, international efforts have grown to ensure the protection of every human being from such acts. The prohibition of torture entails a series of obligations. For example, it obliges States to enact legislation prohibiting acts of torture and to hold those criminally responsible who committed such acts. Nevertheless, people continue to fall victim of torture in many places of the world.
During my last visit to Aden, I met with the Abductees' Mothers Association and I had the chance to listen to their requests. I witnessed the sorrow that these mothers experience as the fate of their children remains unknown and as reports about deteriorating conditions of detention grow stronger. Detainees in different facilities across Yemen reportedly continue to fall victim to arbitrary detention and arrest, abuses and torture – some are even feared to have died in custody. Alarmingly, this situation affects human rights defenders, journalists and members of minority groups alike.
The prohibition of torture lies at the heart of international law and thus ensuring its respect is of utmost priority for the EU, a multilateral entity that endeavours to promote and uphold the rule of law in the international community. The EU incessantly advocates for the alignment of Yemeni national law with international standards, to ensure that all Yemenis will be protected from torture. Further, the EU and its Member States work closely with many partners, both at the international and the local civil society level, to eradicate all forms of torture.
On this International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, we shall remember that the fight against torture is a collective one. I call on all parties involved in the Yemeni conflict to respect the absolute prohibition of torture, to take the appropriate steps to prevent torture and to bring those to justice who engaged in such acts. Further, this day shall give us the occasion to recognize the tremendous hardship survivors of torture have undergone and to express our solidarity with them. As we continue to fight for a world free of torture, we shall ensure the survivors of torture receive the support they need.
Head of EU Delegation to Yemen