Ladies and gentlemen,
"All men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
This immortal statement was echoed in the Declaration of Independence of the United States, in 1776, was reiterated in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam, September 2, 1945, giving birth to Democratic Republic of Vietnam, now the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are obvious rights, but to achieve these rights, people should be guaranteed a series of more specific rights, those are the human rights proclaimed in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. In the 30 articles of the declaration, Article 5 asserts: "No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."
Vietnam’s Constitution 2013 has the whole chapter II to mention about human rights, in which, Articles 20 emphasizes: "Everyone has the right to inviolability of his or her body and to the protection by law of his or her health, honour and dignity; no one shall be subjected to torture, violence, coercion, corporal punishment or any form of treatment harming his or her body and health or offending his or her honour and dignity."
Yet, more than past 70 years, despite the nice words quoted above, in many parts of the world and especially in our native Vietnam, violence and torture still take place in all forms, causing severe and disastrous consequences, for all parties involved.
Therefore, on December 10, 1984, the United Nations adopted the Convention Against Torture. This Convention entered into force on June 26, 1987. Vietnam signed the Convention Against Torture in 2013 and formally ratified this convention in 2015.
However, for the Convention Against Torture to become effective and efficient in practice, we have much work to do.
As we can see, the responsibility of government is to guide the Executive to strictly implement the Convention; the Legislature, besides ratifying, has to modify domestic laws to be in line with the Convention; the Judiciary should put on trial violations of the Convention to punish and deter them.
A further important role indispensable is the role of monitoring, supporting the implementation of the Convention by the civil society organizations. This role is especially important in the socio-political context of Vietnam, when injustice and wrong doings appear everywhere, and when strugglers fighting peacefully for justice and right doings for a democratic and civilized Vietnam are the major object of torture caused by the government.
For these reasons, we, the members of the Mobilization Board for the Establishment of the Association for Support of Victims of Torture, solemnly announce the founding of the Association for Support of Victims of Torture, based on the spirit and content of the Convention Against Torture of the United Nations.
We are committed to bringing our best to contribute little with friends who love justice, democracy, freedom and peace everywhere, to bring the light of the Convention Against Torture to the real life of the nation.
Saigon, dated 7th November, 2016