'Reimagining Justice: Voices Against Torture' : JPP and Olomopolo Observe the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

'Reimagining Justice: Voices Against Torture' : JPP and Olomopolo Observe the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Somewhere in the world, a man has been mistakenly convicted of theft, a mother of vandalism, and a teenage boy of drug possession. Facing criminal charges, incarceration, or even death row, they endure unimaginable torture. Now, imagine that place is Pakistan, the country we call home. Right here, people who are convicted, even if falsely, suffer severe torment at the hands of a justice system meant to uphold justice. Despite laws against torture, it remains a grim reality for many. 

How can a society thrive when torture prevails? If the society itself is subjected to such cruelty, where does compassion reside? This brutality not only devastates the victims but also affects their loved ones, families, inner circles, and ultimately, society as a whole. We must not normalize cruelty and inhumanity in the name of minding our own business.

 Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) campaigns annually to raise awareness around the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Through these efforts, JPP strives to correct injustices and uphold the rights of all Pakistanis, regardless of their circumstances.

"All The King's Men" by Kamil Chima

Historical Background

Observed on June 26th, the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a significant day dedicated to honoring and supporting those who have endured the inhumane practice of torture. This day reaffirms the global commitment to eradicating torture in all its forms.

The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1997, marking the day in 1987 when the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect. Since then, the prohibition of inhumane and degrading torture has been a cornerstone of international law and an object of legal consensus.

"Unveiling The Tormentors" by Shakeeb Asrar

Pakistan’s Voices Against Torture

June 26th, a day that requires recognition from the Pakistani community, is finally getting the acknowledgment it deserves. Despite being illegal and morally wrong, torture persists in Pakistan, perpetrated by both state and non-state actors. Reports indicate that prisoners often face physical and psychological abuse, which goes largely unaddressed due to systemic issues and lack of accountability. The domestic definition of torture under the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Act, 2022, aligns with the international definition, emphasizing the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering for purposes such as obtaining information or confessions, punishment, intimidation, or discrimination.

As part of the campaign, Olomopolo Media (OLO) and Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) will collaborate to present 'Reimagining Justice: Voices Against Torture.' This initiative will involve reaching out to individuals and filmmakers to utilize existing cases of torture to develop compelling narratives through various mediums, such as short films and static digital art. These works will be showcased as part of a social media campaign leading up to or beginning the International Day of Torture on June 26, 2024. JPP will provide case files of real-life scenarios of torture in Pakistan, with identifying information changed to protect the identities of those involved. The narratives will highlight specific aspects, including the impact of torture on the mental health of the ‘tortured accused’ (defendant who has been tortured in the custody of the police and the prison) and their families, the physical and mental torture experienced, including where and how it takes place, the stigma, social marginalization, and impacts on the community, the undermining of legal proceedings and the justice system, the moral and psychological impact on those who perpetrate torture, the breach of fundamental human rights enshrined in various international conventions, including the UN Convention Against Torture, and the violation of Pakistan’s existing laws against torture.

Reimagining Justice in Pakistan

 For the first time in the history of Pakistan, 'Reimagining Justice: Voices Against Torture' will be held on June 29th at the Annemarie Schimmel Haus in Lahore. This event aims to give a voice to the victims and raise awareness about the brutality of torture in Pakistan through different mediums such as photography, digital art, and film. The event will display new works by five artists, focusing on the experiences and impact of torture on victims and survivors. It is essential that these victims are supported by the Pakistani community, recognizing the hardships they faced and resonating with their stories.

The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of standing in solidarity with those who have suffered unimaginable pain. It calls upon the global community to reaffirm its dedication to the eradication of torture and to support the healing and recovery of its victims. Through continued awareness, advocacy, and action, we can work toward a world where torture is consigned to history, and every individual's dignity and human rights are respected and protected.