PUCL Bulletin, June 2001

9 April 2001
Amnesty International calls on all governments to follow EU on eradication of torture

Amnesty International congratulated the European Union for the adoption by the General Affairs Council today (9 April) of guidelines on the prevention and eradication of torture in third countries and called on governments around the world to follow the EU's example.

"The adoption of operational guidelines on the prevention and eradication of torture is a significant advance for EU human rights policy," says Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International's EU Office in Brussels. "This move will help the European Union to go beyond statements of intent. The EU can now take practical steps to show its opposition to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, wherever it occurs, and to engage offending countries in concrete programs of action and prevention."

Amnesty International is particularly pleased that the EU has chosen to embrace proposals put forward by the human rights organisation in October 2000 (Amnesty International: Proposal for a Comprehensive European Union Policy on the Eradication of Torture, October 2000) which coincided with the launch of Amnesty International's global campaign against torture.

'This swift adoption of anti-torture guidelines sends a strong signal to the EU's partners and counterparts around the world that the European Union is looking for new and direct ways to step up the fight against torture," said Dick Oosting. "Amnesty International calls on all governments around the world to honour their commitments to take effective steps to end torture."

At the same time, Amnesty International pointed out that instances of torture and patterns of abuse occur in a number of EU member states, often in a context of discrimination. Amnesty International's proposals for a comprehensive EU policy on torture call for an internal dimension to be developed as well. "For the EU's human rights policy to be credible and effective, the European Union and all member states must also show accountability for their domestic performance," said Dick Oosting.

"As much as we all welcome the new guidelines, that constitutes the ultimate test of the EU's determination."

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