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Today, Prime Minister, take this important step to end torture

No TortureToday, on International Human Rights Day, Canadian groups have joined together in an open letter calling on the Prime Minister to put Canada back in the global effort to end torture around the world.

On the day that marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention against Torture Canada we are calling on Canada to adopt the Optional Protocol that establishes systems for the inspection of detention centres.

Under the systems established by the Optional Protocol, inspections can identify and expose conditions that permit and encourage torture to take place. The Protocol seeks to pierce the shroud of secrecy that allows torture to continue at such alarming rates around the world.

There are countries where torture is rampant and laws and institutions are inadequate to prevent torture and monitor detention facilities. Amnesty International, for example, has documented torture in 141 countries in the last five years. Canada needs to be party to the Optional Protocol in order to push for this mechanism that has great promise for torture prevention.

Ratification of the Optional Protocol will also strengthen oversight of detention centres in Canada in a manner that brings consistency across the country. It will also bring scrutiny to detention centres that are currently not subject to independent oversight, such as immigration detention centres operated by the Canadian Border Services Agency.

When Canada’s government stood for election to the UN Human Rights Council in 2006 they pledged to consider ratifying the Optional Protocol if elected. Canada was elected and served a three year term but did not ratify. When Canada was reviewed by the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review process in 2009 it was again promised that Canada would consider ratifying the inspection protocol. This still has not happened.

As the world marks the 30th anniversary of the Convention against Torture against a tragic and disappointing backdrop of a continuing worldwide torture crisis; it is about stepping up and getting it done. Today, Prime Minister Harper, commit to taking this important step to ending torture.

Read our open letter to the Prime Minister