Untitled Document
|
|
|
|
|

   

WHAT'S NEW

::
Public Panel Speech

::
Press Releases

::
Petition

::
Past Events

::
Projects

::
Message from the Founder...

::
InCAT Team
+
Directors
+
Project Mangers
 
In most countries around the world, state immunity prevents victims of torture from bringing lawsuits against the violating governments. Through the enactment of the Alien Tort Claims Act in the 18th century, the United States is perhaps the only country in the world where individuals are able to seek damages in a court of law for the violation of their human rights by foreign governments. Considering the fact that the global community has now come to recognize torture as a crime that degrades the inherent dignity of the human person, it is shocking that the domestic laws of many countries in the free world do not reflect this development.

We, at InCAT, believe that torture trumps everything, including state immunity. Quite often, the domestic laws of a country include a number of exceptions to the concept of state immunity, such as exceptions for commercial wrongdoings. We would like to believe that if individuals are able to bring lawsuits against foreign governments for commercial wrongdoings, surely they should be entitled to bring legal action for something far worse, namely torture. Most of the countries in the free world are signatories to the UN Convention Against Torture. Isn’t it time for their domestic laws to reflect their international obligation?

The concept of state immunity should not be used as an excuse to turn a blind eye to the violations of human rights in the rest of the world. Recognizing torture as an exception does not render the concept of state immunity obsolete. Indeed, state immunity shall and will continue to apply in respect of a state function. It is not too far fetched to argue that torture is not a matter in respect of a state function.

The truth of the matter is that in most cases, the victims of torture are not able to return to the violating states to seek justice. There are also no international bodies with enforcement capabilities that would enable victims to seek damages for the pain and suffering that they endured in the hands of violating governments. In addition, many of the countries with the most notorious human rights records are not signatories to the UN Convention Against Torture. This leaves most victims of torture in the world with no legal remedy. We believe that it is time for this unfortunate state of affairs to change, and we are determined to push these changes forward. Perhaps, one day, torture, as a tool for state policy, will become a thing of the past.

Our organization’s priority is to pursue the necessary legal changes in Canada, and then, to spread the cause to the rest of the world. If you are an activist, lawyer, or a scholar, and would like to assist us in our cause, if you are able to provide us with financial support, or if you are a victim of torture residing in Canada, please contact us. Together, we can make a difference.

Untitled Document
 
©2003-2005 International Coalition Against Torture (InCAT.org)