The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is observed on June 26th, the day when the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into force in 1987.

This international day was established to honor torture victims worldwide and show solidarity with them, as highlighted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk.

Preventing Torture through the National Preventive Mechanism

Torture constitutes a severe violation of human rights and is prohibited by international law, without exception. Every state that has ratified the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is obliged to establish a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Croatia ratified the Optional Protocol in 2005, which came into force in June 2006. The mandate of the NPM was entrusted to the Office of the Ombudswoman in 2011.

The role of the NPM is to conduct regular and unannounced visits to places where persons deprived of their liberty are or may be held, such as prisons or penitentiaries, police stations, psychiatric institutions, migrant detention centers, and other places. The objective of these visits is to determine whether the regulations and standards for the prevention of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are being observed, and if necessary, to provide recommendations to the relevant authorities and institutions. The recommendations aim to improve the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty and the conditions in which they are held, with the goal of preventing torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

You can find more information about the work of our institution through the NPM mandate in the Ombudswoman’s Report for the year 2022, in the chapters on Police Procedures, Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty, and the Operation of the National Preventive Mechanism in the areas of asylum and migrations, the prison system, and the psychiatric system.

This Year’s Message – Protecting People from Torture in Armed Conflicts

On the occasion of this year’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the UN experts in the field of torture prevention emphasized that there are more than 100 armed conflicts taking place worldwide. They called on the states to adhere to the absolute prohibition of torture and reminded conflict participants that the protection guaranteed by international law applies even in conflict situations.

Prevention, investigation, and prosecution of torture, along with ensuring appropriate compensation, assistance, and rehabilitation for victims, must always be ensured, and no situation, including armed conflict, should be an obstacle to this.

This message was jointly conveyed by members of the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT), Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture, as well as the Special Rapporteur on Torture.