The right not to face inhuman treatment or torture is one of the few absolute freedoms – it can never be justified and there are no exceptions, even during conflicts or the fight against terrorism. This precious value was first recognised in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and torture has long been forbidden under British law. The UK is also a signatory of the UN Convention Against Torture.
Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2013 – a day to remember all of those who died and suffered, not just during the Holocaust under Nazi persecution but in later genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. Both yesterday and today, hundreds of HMD activities are taking place across Britain to remember the atrocities – and consider how individuals and communities can challenge ongoing hatred and discrimination.
The eyes of the globe will once again fall upon London today as the fourteenth Paralympic Games gets underway in earnest. It will be the second largest multi-sport celebration ever staged in the United Kingdom – second only to the hugely successful 2012 Olympic Games of just a few weeks ago. The event also marks the return of the Paralympic movement to its birthplace. What humbly began in the British village of Stoke Mandeville back in 1948, with just a handful of Second World War veterans taking part, returns to the capital more than 60 years on as the biggest Paralympics the world has ever seen.
Of all the imaginable human rights violations, torture is one of the most serious. Following the horrors of the Second World War the international community ensured its strict prohibition was at the heart of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The ban on torture is one of the few absolute rights – it can never be justified and there are no exceptions, even during conflicts or the fight against terrorism.
In this latest entry in our blog series explaining the small bundle of rights and freedoms contained in the Human Rights Act, and debunking the misunderstandings around it, we’re turning our attentions to Article 3: no torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Trying to understand the scale of suffering and the millions of lives destroyed under the Nazi regime can be overwhelming. But on Holocaust Memorial Day it is up to all of us to turn and face it, so that the pledge of ‘never again’ can truly become a reality.