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NZ Takes Lead In Amnesty Anti-Torture Campaign

The New Zealand Government today became the first in the world to publicly support a new international drive to stamp out officially-sanctioned torture.

In the first of a rolling series of launch events for the new Amnesty International campaign, the Prime Minister, Helen Clark, gave a Government commitment to New Zealand as a Torture Free Zone, and to working for an end to torture globally.

With Helen Clark and representatives of Amnesty International, including members of the cross-party Amnesty International Parliamentary Group, was Sylvestre Gahungu, who survived eight days of torture in the central African state of Burundi, and is now resident in New Zealand.

It is estimated that at least 30% of the 750 refugees who come into New Zealand each year are survivors of torture in their country of origin.

Over the past three years, Amnesty International has received reports of torture and brutality carried out by state agents in over 150 countries, and in 70 countries these practices are widespread.

Amnesty's first two major campaigns against torture were followed by the UN Declaration Against Torture (1975) and the Convention Against Torture (1984) later used in the case against Chile's General Pinochet. The aim of the current campaign is to eradicate torture globally.

'New Zealand will continue to lobby other governments to sign up to international conventions to prevent torture and protect human rights, and will give Amnesty International our full support in the campaign', Helen Clark said.

As part of the campaign, Amnesty International this morning launched a new website ? www.stoptorture ? allowing New Zealanders to campaign instantly through on-line petitioning to protect individuals who are in danger of torture. The site can be reached through www.amnesty.org.nz.

For further information contact:

Ced Simpson BH 0-4-499 3349 mobile 021 371 205


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