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The Holy Father, Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of June 2023 is “for the abolition of torture.” He invites us “to pray that the international community may commit in a concrete way to ensure the abolition of torture and guarantee support to victims and their families.” The Pope said, “Torture is not past history; unfortunately, it is part of our history today.”

In the world today, there are highly brutal forms of torture. There are some forms of mistreatment that can be inflicted on individuals such as insulting, bullying, dulling the senses or imprisoning them under inhumane conditions which strip them of their dignity. The Pope reminded us that torture is not something unprecedented and is not a new experience. He encourages us to reflect on how Jesus suffered, was brutally tortured and crucified. Even as he was hung on the cross, the torture and humiliation continued.

The use of torture or any form of cruel or inhumane action is strictly prohibited at all times and in all places. Torture can have varying effects on individuals, families and communities. It is expected to have a significant impact on physical and psychological health - both in the short-term and long-term.

According to international law, torture is considered a crime. We need to put to stop this horrible act at once. It is crucial to prioritise each individual’s dignity and treat them as living beings and not as things or objects. When we treat people mercilessly, causing death or permanent psychological and physical harm, the repercussions last a lifetime. We must commit and urge any authority to act against or to prevent torture. We should strive to ensure that victims of torture receive redress, including the right to sufficient compensation as well as complete rehabilitation.

There are many reasons for torture, and we have read or seen them in countless publications as well as on social media. Despite being completely banned by international law, many countries continue to practice the act of torture. The protection of human rights is not being fully realised. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that torture is against moral law and does not respect the dignity of the human person.

Everyone is entitled to basic human rights, yet torture and violation occur daily in every corner of the world. There is no situation in which it is permissible or reasonable. It is completely prohibited. In case these rights are violated, the public authorities must intervene to put an end to it. Furthermore, the authorities have a duty to investigate any credible reports of mistreatment without delay.

Human rights are like shields which provide protection. They are also similar to rules which teach us how to behave towards others. Human rights can be violated and can be destroyed. They remain fundamental values that are easily recognisable when they are violated or ignored. Human rights belong to everyone - regardless of wealth, age, race, or physical appearance, and demands that every single person be treated with dignity, respect and equality.

“Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” (CCC 2297)

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