The United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is once again being observed on 26 June. The Centre for Torture Survivors at the Helsinki Deaconess Institute highlights the fact that thousands of torture victims also live in Finland.
Refugees and asylum seekers account for most torture victims in Finland. Many have been tortured in their home countries or while in exile. Among them are children or individuals who were tortured during their childhoods.
Operating within the Helsinki Deaconess Institute, the Centre for Torture Survivors looks after refugees and asylum seekers, who have been traumatised by torture.
The Centre calls attention to the fact that critical public views on immigration on humanitarian grounds tend to overlook the suffering that often motivates immigrants.
Torture is still very common around the world. In 2010, Human rights organisation Amnesty International reported torture in nearly one hundred countries.
Torture means any act in which severe physical or mental pain or suffering is inflicted on a person for such purposes as punishing, intimidating or obtaining information. Those tortured suffer psychological and emotional trauma, and are later burdened with stress disorders, depression, anxiety and memory problems, among other things.
Several international agreements and conventions forbid torture. Although the United Nations Convention against Torture entered into force 24 years ago, there are still UN member states that have not ratified the convention.