Hautalan puhe Torture as a global challenge -symposiumissa

Kehitysministeri Hautala puhui 6.6. Helsingissä järjestetyssä Torture as a global challenge -symposiumissa. [:]


I wish you all warmly welcome to the this symposium on Torture as a global challenge. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is delighted to arrange this event along with International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, University of Helsinki, The Helsinki Deaconess Institute and the Human Rights Centre.

Let me thank particularly The IRCT, our close partner in anti-torture work, for their contribution to make the symposium happen.

Despite many positive steps, too many world governments (Amnesty´s estimation is about half of the states) currently practice torture, some of them openly. Torture is against the international law and it is immoral. I´d like to draw your particular attention to the torture of those held in institutions or detention centers, like many persons with disabilities.
The prohibition against inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment is non-derogable human right. We must always condemn all-kind of torture. Some groups are, however, more at the risk of ill-treatment. Since use of torture and ill-treatment may often be based on racial or other kind of discrimination, there is a clear connection between torture and discrimination.

The poor are often the first and most numerous victims of violence, including torture. This is because of the marginalization they experience in society, and because their poverty does not allow them to defend themselves and demand their rights. To protect them, the effective monitoring mechanism is needed also outside big cities, including detention centers in remote areas. To prevent torture we shall respect, protect and fulfill all human rights: civil, political, economic, social and cultural.

Human rights are restricted in the name of internal security, social stability and anti-terrorism activities. Countering terrorism has presented the international human rights system with many challenges. In promotion and protection of human rights the means and the end must be in harmony with universal human rights themselves. The Finnish government stresses the importance that all counter measures designed to combat terrorism must be in compliance with international human rights as well as international humanitarian law.

Torture is prohibited in the Constitution of Finland. The provisions on torture have been incorporated into the Chapters of our Penal Code.

International monitoring mechanisms play a crucial role in our prevention system.
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) has visited Finland and has made remarks and recommendations on the implementation of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture. The delegation did not receive any allegations of physical ill-treatment of persons detained by the police, and did not gather any other evidence to this effect. However, it recommended steps to be taken to, inter alia, as to the arrangements for remand prisoners.

Finland’s reports were considered by the UN Committee against Torture last time in May 2011. The Committee thanked Finland for its ongoing efforts to revise its legislation in order to enhance the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture. The Committees recommendations concerned, inter alia, involuntary psychiatric hospitalization and treatment, violence against women, and detention and ill-treatment of asylum-seekers, irregular immigrants and other aliens.

Finland takes seriously the recommendations by the UN and European Committees. We appreciate open and constructive dialogue with the Committees and consider their views and recommendations a valuable tool for the development of national legislation and practices.

Last June Finland submitted its response to some of the Committee’s recommendations. Finland’s next report to the Committee is due in June 2015.

Finland is a state party of the UN convention against torture but haven´t ratified yet its Optional Protocol. We are especially glad to be soon able to finalise the ratification process of the Protocol,
The Optional Protocol establishes a system of regular visits undertaken by independent international and national bodies to places where people are deprived of their liberty, in order to prevent torture and other such treatment or punishment. The Parliament of Finland has accepted the Optional Protocol in April. The instrument of ratification will be deposited in due course. The Parliamentary Ombudsman will be nominated as the National Preventive Mechanism.

All this means a progress in the legal protection against torture domestically.

But we must also do our best to promote the prohibition of torture in our foreign relations.

Effective monitoring system is called into enjoyment of all human rights. And it is definitely need also to prevent the torture. Finland supports the strong mandate of the the UN Special Rapporteur. The mandate holder Mr. Juan Méndez has done an excellent work.
Finland has contributed many years the United Nations voluntary fund for victims of torture. We find useful that grants are channelled through civil society organisations offering medical, psychological and social assistance, as well as legal aid. This can promote more sustainable anti-torture work in communities. The active civil society is also needed to secure that Governments will take their primary responsibility for the prevention of torture and the implementation of torture rehabilitation, as set out in the international agreements.

The European Union is politically and legally firmly committed to the absolute prohibition of all forms of ill-treatment. The EU also actively seeks in its foreign relations to ensure that third countries share this view. The Union has adopted its Guidelines against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We fully share with the aims of the Guidelines.
The main challenge is the implementation. Finland engages in the available tools of diplomacy and cooperation to make the implementation more feasible. This includes also the contributions to the civil society organisations through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), including awareness raising and public education on fight against torture and ill treatment.
Political dialogue is an opportunity for the EU to call on individual countries – either confidentially or publicly – to ratify the UN convention and its Optional Protocol. The EU also takes up individual cases when appropriate.
The elementary focus in EU’s policy against torture is to combat impunity and have more accountability to prevent the torture.
The EU policy must be coherent inside and outside of the Union. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights includes the absolute ban on torture and ill-treatment in accordance with core UN human rights conventions. European Convention for the Prevention of Torture (and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) and its monitoring mechanism offer an outstanding tool to prevent torture in all EU member states.
Finland’s Development Policy programme stresses and emphasizes the human rights-based approach as a key factor in all development policy and cooperation. A state based on human rights, rule of law, democracy and good governance is one that is responsive to the needs of its populations and address disputes without fear, violence and torture.

We need more accountable regimes to prevent torture. In Afghanistan Finland is supporting the better functioning and more responsive and accountable police institution by financing the UNDP’s Law and Order Trust Fund. We have had a bilateral programme with Afghanistan to strengthen better cooperation and coordination of the Afghan police and attorney general’s office in investigating cases.

The Justice institutions – which are among the core institutions of any country – can only enjoy legitimacy and trust of all people if they protect everyone’s human rights, end impunity, ensure and improve access to justice and are capable of addressing past violations.

The civil society is at the forefront in contributing to the monitoring and implementation of human rights in our globalised world. I´d like to highlight the role of the human rights defenders in the anti-torture activities. The IRTC is an excellent example both in the prevention of torture and rehabilitation of the torture survivors.

Finland’s development policy notes that supporting human rights defenders and other human rights actors is a part of promotion of human rights, democracy and an accountable society. This work is done in many ways and at different levels, including the prevention of torture. Let me take here only one example The Finnish NGO Foundation for Human Rights, KIOS. KIOS supports, through its partners, advocacy work as well as assistance of the victims of torture. In Burundi for example Action des Chrétiens pour l’Abolition de la Torture ACAT-network is active in prisons and detention centers. In Nepal the Centre for Victims of Torture is fighting violence against women in this context. KIOS provides a direct legal assistance and legal advocacy for Palestinian victims of torture in Israel.

Human rights defenders and their families and close familiars are sometimes at the high risk of torture. They need a strong support and protection by the international community, including Finland.

Torture is a global challenge. The vision of the world without torture sounds maybe unrealistic. But I believe that eradication of torture is not just our duty but it is also possible. The reason is that the world becomes more global and that helps us to combat impunity. The world without torture is a great vision for this century.