UN: Torturers must pay victims

States that commit acts of torture should be forced to pay for victims’ rehabilitation, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak has said.

Mr Nowak said torture victims required long and costly treatment, and usually rich nations footed the bill rather than the offending states.

Mr Nowak said the EU was the biggest donor to torture rehabilitation centres, providing $29m (22m euros).

He was presenting his annual report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Countries where torture is widespread or even systematic should be held accountable to pay,” the UN rapporteur said.

Mr Nowak suggested that such states could then even pass the bill on to the individual torturers.

“If individual torturers would have to pay all the long-term costs, this would have a much stronger deterrent effect on torture than some kind of disciplinary or lenient criminal punishment.

“In reality, it’s almost never the state that tortures, but other states who provide asylum, who take victims of torture and who are then providing in state institutions rehabilitation.”

Mr Nowak said the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture was the second biggest financier of torture rehabilitation, providing $17m (13m euros).

He also called for the application of a provision for universal jurisdiction within the UN convention against torture, which obliges countries to arrest alleged torturers who arrive on their territory.

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This post was last updated: Thursday, March 29, 2007 at 12:29 PM, Central European Time (CET)