IBA – New publication aims to address torture prevention gap in Latin America

Edited by Verónica Hinestroza Arenas (IBAHRI), Fabio de Sa e Silva and Par Engstrom, the book is divided into two parts:

  • part 1 examines the significant gaps that exist between the formal commitments of Latin American states to the eradication of torture and the practice of torture in the region. The authors – Gaia Pergolo, Mr Sa e Silva, Andra Nicolescu, Paulina Zamorano Valenzuela and Edgar Hassan – demonstrate that the practice of torture persists in Latin America despite many countries signing and ratifying international instruments against torture. This gap accentuates an inevitable and growing institutional distrust, especially among the most vulnerable of citizens who are the most common victims of torture; and
  • part 2 highlights potential for political and institutional innovation, such as the creation of a Universal Protocol for non-coercive interviews, in the fight against torture in the region. The authors – Juan E Méndez, Juan Morey, Miguel Sarre, Rafael Barreto Souza, Myriam Rivera-Holguín, Tesania Velázquez and Diego Otero-Oyague – posit a broader, multidisciplinary agenda that could transform the institutional framework for the prevention, adjudication and reparation of torture.

IBA President Horacio Bernardes Neto states: ‘This collection of essays provides a stark and unsettling insight into the challenges Latin American countries are facing in addressing torturous practices. As the authors stress, whilst robust legal protections have an important role to play in the prevention of torture, we must now pay closer attention to the informal practices and structural conditions that enable torture and ill-treatment in Latin America. A more holistic perspective, involving state actors, medical professionals and lawyers, holds the key to halting the spread of torture and other human rights violations.’

Roberto Hinestrosa Rey, Dean of the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations at the Universidad Externado de Colombia, noted: ‘Academia plays a fundamental role in promoting the understanding of the ethical and legal implications of serious human rights violations, such as torture. Likewise, it should serve as a forum for discussion, reflection and generation of responses to eradicate them. For the university, it is a pleasure to add its voice to a call that must reach all actors in society.’

IBAHRI Co-Chair, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, a former Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009) commented: ‘Torture is an inexcusable violation of human rights that sadly still occurs in jurisdictions across the world. Addressing this problem in Latin America, as Responding to Torture demonstrates, is an ongoing battle requiring renewed vigour and dedication from a multitude of sectors. In the legal profession, it is essential that we continue to raise awareness of cruel and inhuman practices and provide the necessary training to ensure the eradication of torture, once and for all. Public education is also critical to overcome indifference, ignorance and resignation about this serious and ongoing problem. This issue cannot be addressed by law alone.’

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