International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 26 June 2015
Today, on the 26th of June, we commemorate the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In his address to the nations, the Secretary General of the United Nations emphasized that the rise of violent extremism and the unprecedented level of forced displacement in the world requires sweeping response of the member countries. An important aspect of such response would be undertaking activities aimed at helping victims who face torture on account of the aforementioned negative trends.
In May 2015 in Geneva, the Committee against Torture of the United Nations was reviewing the progress of the Republic of Macedonia in the area of prevention and protection from torture. The Helsinki Committee, in cooperation with the World Organization Against Torture and five local Non-Governmental Organizations, submitted to the United Nations alternative report on the factual situation in the country. After hearing the representatives of the state institutions, the Committee against Torture concluded that, generally speaking, during the last six years Macedonia has made no progress in the area of fight against torture.
The recommendations sent by the United Nations to the Republic of Macedonia were to a large degree inspired by the alternative report, and were mainly related to 1) abuses steaming from the “Wiretapping” scandal, 2) violence among prison inmates and living conditions in prisons, 3) impunity enjoyed by perpetrators of crime of torture, 4) living conditions in the Reception Center for Foreigners in Gazi Baba, 5) violence against the LGBTI community, the Roma and the women, 6) human trafficking, 7) the Ombudsman and the National Prevention Mechanism, 8) the Law on Amnesty of the “Hague cases”, 9) health protection in detention facilities, and 10) compensation and rehabilitation of the victims.
In the past 12 months the Helsinki Committee noted dozen of more serious incidents of harassment, physical and psychic torture. Among them, the continual trying with a rope of the juvenile deaf-mute Roma boy, who was, due to wrong diagnosis, placed into the Institute for Protection and Rehabilitation Banja Bnasko, the four murders of women, girls and their relatives (including some committed with service weapons) by partners previously reported as perpetrators of domestic violence, the attacks against migrants-refugees and their accommodation in inhuman conditions, as well as the discovery of feces in the Kumanovo Penitentiary water, ended up without adequate, or even without any kind of reaction by the competent institutions.
The Helsinki Committee joins the commemoration of this International Day and appeals to the authorities to finally recognize the existence of torture and to develop policies for protection from this barbaric act. The authorities have to implement policy of zero tolerance for acts of torture perpetrated by officials. It is high time to face the phenomenon of impunity and solidarization of the Public Prosecution and the Judiciary with the Police. The main focus has to be placed upon the victims of torture for whom the state as of yet fails to provide adequate medical, psychological and social support.