One year ago, Amnesty International launched a global campaign to Stop Torture. And it’s working.
We have shone a light on torture taking place in Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Uzbekistan. In each of these countries we have campaigned alongside families of torture survivors and NGO partners, and we have seen results. Here are a few of the highlights.
October 15, 2014 – Mexico releases Honduran torture victim and prisoner of conscience, Ángel Amilcar Colón without charge after more than five years of pre-trial detention. 20,000 people signed petitions as part of an Amnesty International campaign calling for his release.
February 10, 2015 – The last remaining charge was dropped against torture survivor Claudia Medina Tamariz. Over 300,000 people signed petitions as part of an Amnesty International campaign calling for charges against her to be dropped.
May 21, 2014 – Moroccan authorities reopen their investigation into the torture of Ali Aarrass and order a new medical examination, responding to calls from the UN Committee against Torture and Amnesty International. The examination was carried out in November 2014 over several days, without the presence of an independent monitor. Ali Aarrass and his lawyers are yet to see the new report.
May 29, 2014 – Morocco’s Ministry of Justice and Liberties instructs prosecutors and judges to order medical examinations when faced with reports of torture and other ill-treatment. Amnesty International has warned that despite existing safeguards, courts often fail to act when confronted with signs of torture.
December 10, 2014 – Nigerian police publish a Human Rights Practice Manual setting out standards expected of police officers. Amnesty International has campaigned since 2008 for the police to produce detailed guidelines on respecting human rights for officers.
June 3, 2015 – Nigeria’s National Assembly passes a new bill criminalizing torture, as called for by an Amnesty International report. It is now awaiting signature by the newly-elected President Buhari.
June 3, 2015 – Nigeria frees Moses Akatugba, a Nigerian torture victim sentenced to death for armed robbery after stealing three mobile phones – a crime he says he didn’t commit –based on a “confession” obtained under torture. More than 800,000 Amnesty International supporters called on Delta State Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan to commute the death sentence through letters and petitions. The Governor pardoned Moses on May 28, 2015 as one of his last acts before leaving office.
December 4, 2014 – A senate resolution in the Philippines calls for a senate inquiry based on Amnesty International’s report on torture in the country. The inquiry took place on January 14, 2015.
Our work is not done yet
We have seen progress on individual cases, and we have started working towards long-term systematic change in each country, but we have a long way to go. On June 26, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, we challenge you to re-commit yourself to Stop Torture.
What can I do?
- Follow us on Twitter @AIStopTorture
- Sign our e-action calling on Canada to prevent torture in detention centres around the world
- Sign our e-action calling on Saudia Arabia to free Raif Badawi
- Write a letter to help free Adrian Vasquez in Mexico
- Write a letter and raise your voice for Yecenia in Mexico
- Write a letter and vaice your voice with Angel to help end torture in Mexico
- Write a letter to help free Wafae Charaf and Oussama Housne
- Write a letter to help Stop Torture in detention centres in Nigeria
- Write a letter seeking justice for Dave Enriquez in the Philippines
- Write a letter to help free Dilorom Abdukadirova in Uzbekistan
Want to know what else you can to do help Stop Torture? Look for ideas, actions, and inspiration on our Stop Torture webpage.
We can, we will, and we ARE stopping torture! #StopTorture
Here’s some more cool facts and figures about why we’re campaigning to stop torture, and the impact that Amnesty’s campaigning is having worldwide.
While many countries made significant strides in combating torture, governments around the world are still using torture to extract information, force confessions, silence dissent or simply as a cruel form of punishment.
- 157 – the number of countries that have ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture.
- 141 – the number of countries in which Amnesty has reported on torture or other ill-treatment in the past five years. In some countries it’s a rarity, in others it’s widespread. Even one case is unacceptable.
- 82% – torture or other ill-treatment was reported in four-fifths of the countries covered in Amnesty International’s 2014 annual report.
Torture by numbers
Since launching the Stop Torture campaign in May 2014, Amnesty International has issued reports on torture in Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines and Uzbekistan. The reports show that torture is a frequent event in these countries, while the perpetrators of torture continue to enjoy impunity for their crimes.
- 1,505 – The number of reported complaints of torture and other ill-treatment in Mexico in 2013, 600% more than in 2003.
- 50% of people in Nigeria would not feel safe from torture if they were held in custody.
- 21 – the number of survivors who were tortured as children in the Philippines who spoke to Amnesty International, out of a total of 55 torture survivors interviewed.
- 13 – the number of pending requests from UN human rights experts to visit Uzbekistan to assess the human rights situation in the country since 2002.
- 8 – the number of people prosecuted after complaining about or reporting torture in Morocco since May 2014 on charges including “slanderous denunciation”, “false reporting”, “public insult” and “defamation”.
- 7 – the number of torture convictions achieved at the federal level in Mexico since 1991, when torture was made a crime. Thousands of complaints are filed every year.
- 0 – the number of torture convictions secured under the Philippines’ Anti–Torture Act since it was adopted in 2009.
Torture methods around the world
The most common tools of torture are basic and brutal – the hand, the boot and the truncheon – anything that can cause wounds or break bones.
These are some of the more “advanced” methods Amnesty International’s research has documented:
- Mexico: “Tehuacanazo” – carbonated water is forced up the detainee’s nostrils.
- Morocco: “Roast chicken” – Upside–down suspension in the stress position where victims are hung from a bar by their knees and wrists in a crouching position, placing great strain on knees and shoulders.
- Nigeria: “Tabay” – when police officers tie detainees’ elbows behind their backs and suspend them
- The Philippines: “Wheel of Torture” – police spin a Wheel of Torture to decide how to torture detainees. Different sections on the wheel include: “30 seconds bat position” where the detainee is hung upside down (like a bat); and “20 second Manny Pacquaio” named after the country’s famous boxer, where the detainee is punched non–stop for 20 seconds.
- Uzbekistan: Beatings while detainees are suspended from ceiling hooks by their hands, often with their arms fastened behind their back, or while handcuffed to radiators or to metal bars attached to walls.
A global campaign to Stop Torture
Amnesty International’s Stop Torture campaign has mobilized millions of people into direct action since its launch in 2014 through a variety of tactics and activities targeting five specific governments.
- 2 million – the number of times people took action as part of the Stop Torture campaign since May 2014, from writing letters to attending demonstrations.
- 340,000 – the number of people who signed a petition delivered to the Mexican Federal Attorney General asking for a full investigation to be opened into the case of Claudia Medina, who was tortured by marines in order to force her to incriminate herself and others in drug–related crimes.
- 300,000 – the number of people who signed a petition calling for the release of single mother Alfreda Disbarro, tortured by police in the Philippines after being accused of selling drugs, a charge she denies. She received so many letters from supporters around the world that prison guards complained they did nothing but scan her letters.
- 200,000 – the number of petitions delivered to Uzbekistani embassies in 12 European cities in October 2014 asking the government to release prisoner of conscience Dilorom Abdukadirova. Dilorom was arbitrarily arrested and subjected to torture in pre–trial detention when she returned to the country from exile to be reunited with her family.
- 1 – giant billboard in downtown Manila calling on the people in the Philippines to act against police torture in December 2014. The ad was funded by Amnesty International members and supporters and also placed in magazines.