A world-wide investigation in the mid-seventies made by Amnesty International showed that torture was being used in approximately 60 of the worlds countries. It is difficult to believe that the numbers have not increased since then. Torture, psychical and physical is being used to make fear in the political opposition to prevent all resistance.
I mean that this issue is one of the most important issues of today, and it needs an international co-operation if we are going to be able to get rid of it.
For many years many people have spent a lot of time trying to put pressure on different countries in the world. By using international co-operation many countries have been pressured to change their politic about torture.
Historically torture has been used to get information about persons or organisations. In the 1700-hundred torture was banned in many of Europe’s countries. The reason why many countries agreed about this was the intense criticism from Voltaire and the Italian jurist Beccaria.
In 1948 we achieved that the UN’s general council adopted a statement about the human rights which in article five says: " No one can be exposed for torture or cruel, inhumane treatment or punishment."
In 1976 Amnesty International started a campaign which is the biggest campaign which Amnesty ever have made against one specific country. Amnesty had decided to "put Uruguay and the forgotten suppression there on the map", as a campaign leader in Amnesty called it.
Almost 30 national divisions of Amnesty participated in the campaign. 350 000 signatures was collected in demand of an independent inquiry of the assertions of torture in Uruguay. Thousands of letters was sent to the government in Uruguay and an officer in the Uruguay army came forward and told his story. This made the mass media aware of what was happening and the campaign and the conditions in Uruguay got a lot of publicity.
What has happened in Uruguay since the campaign in 1976? The campaign achieved to create an international attention about the human rights in Uruguay. The government of Uruguay became more isolated after the campaign, and the USA stopped all military help to the country. But the torture continued.... One thing is certain about this country: Amnesty will continue their work.
The different methods which is being used in torture are terrible. How people can put so much pain on other people is for me a mystery. I have read a lot about torture, and the more I read the more terrified I became.
So what can be done to prevent more torture in the world? This issue needs, as I wrote earlier, international co-operation. Writing letters to the government has been done for quite some time, and if enough letters is written it might be taking notice of.
What can be done in a much bigger scale is an international boycott of the country. Stop all import and export of goods. Doing this we force the government to take responsibility and perhaps ban torture.
The mass media have to take an important part of the job, by giving information to the public about the situation. This month the mass media have told about the terrible conditions in many of the Russian prisons.
I am positive to a continue of these actions, and by doing so we might force many countries into an agreement by the powers of the UN.