Friend of torture victims
MICHELLE CAILLOUET , Ambassador, European Union, seeks to balm the tortured souls across the globe, a mission which brought him to Kochi to participate in the International Day for Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, observed under the auspices of the Torture Prevention Centre, Kochi, aided by the EU.
Even as torture gains global status as a human impulse, victimising people across the world, the European Union is stepping upfront offering the rehabilitation panacea. Even dowry torture and dowry deaths figure on the EU agenda. As also Afghanistan, and Iraq, vanquished and demoralised by the global Supercop .
We started with six countries initially, like Germany, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Italy. It expanded to include 15 members. Next year, another 10 will join us, effecting the unification of Europe, Caillouet exudes optimism. We want to share our objective with the world, especially India, which is a very important democracy.
Under the EU initiative, 96 countries fight to eradicate the torture problem globally. We finance various projects, like the Torture Prevention Centre in Kerala_.
And believe it or not, even the dowry menace has crept into global consciousness, with the EU offering financial aid for rehabilitation of dowry victims through a rehabilitation centre in Karnataka, according to Caillouet.
How about the dowry menace in Kerala? Caillouet is surprised. Dowry menace in progressive Kerala? It is not only the torture by police or the State that is figuring on the EU agenda but also the torture of people as such. Like the torture of the Nepalese by the Maoists and the torture suffered by people in the course of the ongoing struggle between Sri Lanka and the LTTE.
According to him the Bangalore centre to help dowry victims is a huge success with women queuing, up seeking help and rehabilitation.
EU is also active in the Kashmir Valley, beset by the terrorist menace. _In fact, the EU had been offering help to countries ravaged by civil war like Latin America, and Bosnia, as also Palestine, and Israel.
In all, we have given 500 million Euros in aid to various projects across the globe.
The EU plans to expand the scope and range of such projects, especially to the very active NGO sector in India.
EU also has a programme called ECHO (European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office), which came to the rescue of the quake victims in Gujarat. ECHO has opened an office with the specific purpose of helping European NGOs. ECHO is also active in Afghanistan where it concentrates in humanitarian development, restoration of roads, hospitals and schools, apart from ensuring good governance. Currently EU is collaborating with the US in rehabilitation measures. "Actually the EU is very happy with the Prime Minister of India for his initiative on Kashmir. It is a step by step process and we are sure something positive will emerge in Kashmir. . The Convention on Human Rights has been ratified by 32 countries so far but India is yet to ratify it.. "We are trying to exert some friendly pressure on the Indian Government to ratify it," he smiles.
Kerala is no novelty for Cailloet who has visited it twice earlier and enjoys its seductive enchantment.
"It is a very beautiful place and the people are very nice, so well-educated. I love its tropical ambience, which is very different from other places," he remarked.
We have committed 100 million Euros in Kerala over the past 15 years. The projects include improvement of Agriculture Technology, horticulture, sanitation, improving quality of products, setting up factories for fruit juices, organic farming, Caillouet says, hastening to assure that EU is not into genetic farming. He is looking forward to explore the scenic mysteries of Kerala in the monsoon.
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