A living tableau in Brussels formed the backdrop to a call by the European Parliament and Amnesty International that EU governments end torture around the world. Several MEPs signed a postcard to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency next month, expressing their concern.
Amnesty’s Nicolas Berger said: “This action is really to put another light on the fact that Europe has been incredibly complicit in torture and in rendition flights conducted by the US, which have led to people being forcibly abducted, unlawful detention… and we have seen direct torture.”
This was to mark the International Day against torture. Around 50 countries, 11 of them EU states, are participating in a European Commission-led first global awareness campaign against torture, including posters and video clips.
French MEP Helene Flautre, in the parliament’s subcommittee on human rights, said: “Even in our guidelines for outside the EU we ask authorities never to put anyone in a secret place propitious towards torture. It is known that this has been the case on European soil! Therfore, unfortunately, even if the European Union wanted to preach morality from on high, it couldn’t.”
An estimated 400,000 torture survivors live in the EU, very few of them receiving sustained medical, psychological or social support. The torture victims council IRCT said a minority of EU states are meeting their minimum funding obligations, and that others’ UN contributions are inadequate.