United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture


June 26 is recognized International Day by the United Nations in Support of Victims of Torture and is marked by events held in hundreds of countries around the world. One of those places included Twin Cities the Center of Victims of Torture.

Torture is a crime against humanity that is committed in over 100 countries. A tool of repression used to control populations and destroy leaders through fear, torture is the most effective weapon against democracy. Torture damages individuals and communities and its effects are physical, psychological, social and spiritual that last with the survivors as long as they live.

The Convention entered into force on June 26, 1987. It established the Committee Against Torture, a key watchdog group; the Office of the Special Rapporteur, which monitors reports of torture from 60 to 70 countries each year; and the Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, which helps fund rehabilitation and restitution efforts for survivors. To date, 141 nations are party to it.

CVT’s executive director, Douglas A. Johnson, told the audience how torture regularly used in many countries against civilians encouraging his fellow Minnesotans to engage their public officials to help end putting brakes on this cruel method. Founded in 1985 as an independent nonprofit and based in Minn-esota, CVT was the first organization in the United States to provide comprehensive care and rehab-ilitative services to surv-ivors of tort-ure. Minnesota is home to as many as 30,000 survivors of tort-ure, 500,000 nationwide. From 1996 – 2004 the CVT trained over 25,000 health care professionals, social service providers, teachers, other school staff and leaders in refugee communities to meet the needs of torture survivors. In 2005, CVT began a community-wide project in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center, two greatly impacted Minnesota communities, to provide training to service providers and refugee leaders and improve quality of care and services for torture survivors.

The project is funded by the Office of Refugee Resettlement under its Torture Victims Rehabilitation Act program. The project is reaching 40 organizations and other programs to provide care and rehabilitative services to torture survivors in the United States. Training and technical assistance focus on clinical skill-building, financial sustainability, organizational development and the creation of effective advocacy and constituency-building programs.

Finally, at the end of the all-day celebation, it was the time of the annual tree planting ceremony. The planting symbolizes our continued hope for the healing of survivors of torture and an end to the use of torture worldwide. It was jointly performed by the CVT Director, Douglas Johnson and Gboyee Seeyon, Chair of the Liberians Community in Minnesota public relations committee and a practicum student at the Center for Victims of Torture.