Children - Torture's hidden victims
A widespread but overlooked crime
Torture is a detestable crime under any circumstances. But the need for action is particularly critical when it is committed against children. And the stark reality is that although we do not often hear much about it, each day countless children are targets of torture or affected by the torture of a loved one.
The absolute prohibition of torture is specifically mentioned in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But whilst the question of violence against children is increasingly debated and attended to globally, generally there is little focus on and awareness about the specific needs and rights of children with regard to protection from torture and access to rehabilitation and redress. This is especially concerning given that torture tends to have even more severe and long-lasting effects on children than on adults, often leading to the interruption of the process of normal psychological, emotional and social development.
The IRCT takes action
So far, few statistics and little systematic documentation exist on the subject. To address this gap – and ultimately to put a spotlight on the fact that children are tortured and to enhance support to child survivors – the IRCT has decided to make children and torture a key thematic focus of its work.
Concretely, this entails a range of initiatives to ensure that our rehabilitation services are reaching tortured children, to help them regain their right to joy and dignity in life, and to conduct preventative action to protect vulnerable children from torture in the first place. For this purpose, we initiated a baseline study, and an advisory group of experts in our Council and network will provide input to the scientific debate by conducting research and establishing best practice examples on the issue. Moreover, we will enhance our collaboration with child rights organisations and advocate in international, regional and national human rights fora to raise the global awareness of these hidden violations and to promote the rights of children to be free from torture.