The Profiles in Courage Award 2008.

The Kennedy Society has decided to present for 2008 John F. Kennedy’s book “Profiles in Courage” – as an award – to the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Denmark for its persistent, clear and courageous efforts against torture and for the rehabilitation of victims of torture.

This commitment which started as a pioneer contribution by its founder, chief physician Inge Genefke, is in accordance with the words of President John F. Kennedy in 1961: “We are unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.”
In 2006, RCT also recognizes that the war against terror since 9/11 2001 has put the ban on torture under pressure; the Guantanamo camp in Cuba was established in 2002 and the torture in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was revealed in 2004.
At the 25th anniversary for RCT in 2007, director general Bengt H. Sjölund emphasized, “RCT focuses more and more on the need for global knowledge to avoid torture and organized violence.” In its annual report for 2007, RCT focused on the conditions in Denmark in relation to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by Denmark in 1987. Here it is mentioned Denmark has been a leading country for human rights and in 2007, the Minister of Foreign Affairs declared, “Fight against torture therefore must continue to be a major cause for Denmark.”                                                             In its annual report for 2007, RCT also focused on critical remarks from the UN’s Committee Against Torture concerning conditions in Denmark, among these Denmark’s widespread use of isolations in prisons, the comments were:

1. “The Committee was troubled by the widespread use of isolation among prisoners on remand,”  
2. “The ban on extraditing people to countries, where they risk torture, is absolute,”  
3. “The necessity of having an independent tribunal in place to study complaints against the police,”
4. “The fact that it still takes too long to process asylum-seekers through Danish refugee centers.”

On March 13, 2008, in a letter to the Danish Prime Minister, RCT requested that “Denmark as soon as possible to the American President George W. Bush openly and in clear words protest against the veto he placed over the Congress and the Senate’s effort to put limits on the use of torture like methods by the CIA such as water-boarding.” The letter ended. “The good relationship to United States of America as emphasized during your recent visit in USA makes it very important that Denmark takes a clear stand against the veto of the American president.” With those words RCT asked the prime minister to follow the words of our award winner - former Chancellor - Willy Brandt, “The best friend is not the backslapper, but the one helping one with the much needed criticism.”