Torture remains a moral stain on the world’s collective conscience. That is why today, 35 years after the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect, I am proud to re-affirm that the United States stands unequivocally against this barbaric act. As one of the original drafters of the Convention, the United States remains committed to eradicating torture throughout the world.
Any instance of torture is one too many, and yet every year countless victims suffer this brutal violation of their human rights and dignity. This year we have been shocked by the horrific acts committed by Russian forces in Ukraine, including multiple, credible reports of torture such as beatings, electric shocks, and mock executions. In Mali and Burkina Faso, terrorist groups have been documented to have massacred and tortured local populations, while in Mali and Central African Republic, Kremlin-aligned Wagner mercenaries have reportedly employed similar cruel and unlawful tactics. In the Americas, transnational crime organizations, including cartels and gangs, have been reported as torturing journalists, activists, and minorities, including LGBTQI+ individuals, as a tactic to sow fear and intimidation. In Burma, reports document security forces torturing and killing those who support democracy, including through electrocution, rape, and other forms of sexual violence. Each of these examples tears at our humanity.
Today, I reaffirm the United States’ dedication to eliminating torture and supporting its victims. The United States has legally prohibited torture in all of its forms, without exception. We also remain the top contributor to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which helps nearly 50,000 victims and their families receive medical, psychological, legal, social, and other assistance necessary to rebuild their lives. And this year, I submitted to Congress a budget that requests the largest ever funding amount for the U.S. Survivors of Torture Program in HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
When a government commits torture, it surrenders its moral authority and undermines its own legitimacy. And, critically, when torture is committed in the name of national security, it only emboldens and multiplies enemies, fuels unrest, and leaves governments isolated internationally.
Today, and every day, let us stand in solidarity with survivors of torture, while calling on all nations to end this inhuman practice.