With stories of prisoner abuse and terrorist torture plastered across the media, this year’s International Day in Support for Victims of Torture – Saturday, June 26, 2004 - is likely to draw the attention of millions of Christians around the world. In lieu of the day of observance, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, shared his reflection on torture and commended those who fight against it.
"Although there is no human practice so abominable or so widely condemned, physical and mental torture and other forms of cruel and inhuman treatment are now on the increase and are applied systematically in many countries, to the extent that practically no nation can claim to be free of them,” began Kobia in the June 25th dated statement.
Kobia specifically pointed to the prisoner abuse scandal in Baghdad as an example of the deep darkness in the world.
“The inhuman treatment of helpless men and women in the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad that shocked people all over the world a few weeks ago is a recent and tragic example. Torture in all its forms remains a violation of the absolute gospel value of the dignity of the human person and the sacredness of life that the WCC upholds,” wrote Kobia.
Kobia then turned to the tragedies striking other nations, which have not yet received sufficient consideration and response from the international community.
"The sad fact that the horrible practice of degrading people, subjecting them to physical and psychological torture continues to be practised at local and international levels in all the regions of the world, whether in the northern or southern hemisphere, is largely due to the fact that national governments have failed to ratify international norms and standards in order to make them applicable to local and national situations,” wrote Kobia.
Nevertheless, Kobia commended the work of international Christian organizations that struggle to “bring to an end the culture of impunity that plagues many of our societies particularly in the South,” and urged them to continue in their good work.
“Organizations like Actions by Christians for the Abolition of Torture shares the common objective of the abolition of capital punishment which the members of the WCC see as a significant expression of the Christian belief in the sanctity of life,” wrote Kobia.