UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Friday urged governments to go on the offensive in the fight against torture, stressing there can be no justification under any circumstances for such cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment. I urge all United Nations member states that have not yet done so to ratify and implement in good faith the Convention against Torture (CAT), Ban said in a message marking the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Let us step up the fight against torture and cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment and punishment, wherever they occur. Echoing Bans statements, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, maybe invoked as a justification of torture. Pillay stressed that no one should be let off the hook for torture, including the policy-makers and public officials who define the policy and give the orders. Since its adoption in 1984, a total of 146 nations, or three-quarters of the world, have ratified the convention, noted Pillay, who urged the remaining countries to sign up and current signatories to abide by its very clear rules. Many states that have ratified CAT continue to practise torture, some of them on a daily basis, she said, adding that other states enable torture by sending back asylum-seekers to countries they know carry out torture, which is also clearly prohibited by the treaty. The high commissioner noted that the terrorist attacks of Sept 11, 2001 resulted in some countries backsliding on commitments not to practice or condone torture, looking for ingenious ways to get around CAT, or stretch its boundaries. The Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons, in particular, became high-profile symbols of this regression, she said. New terms such as 'waterboarding and 'rendition entered the public discourse, as human rights lawyers and advocates looked on in dismay. Welcoming United States President Barack Obamas decisions to close Guantanamo and ban methods of interrogation that contravene international law, Pillay said that leadership plays a crucial role in upholding the total prohibition of torture. As CAT makes clear, people who order or inflict torture can not be exonerated, and the roles of certain lawyers, as well as doctors who have attended torture sessions, should be scrutinized, she said. Pillay also said that while Guantanamo was reprehensible, it paled in comparison to the scale and nature of torture taking place in prisons, police stations and other government premises in countries all around the world. There are thousands of such places and tens of thousands of victims, she said, including child criminals and street children, she said, not just suspected terrorists and political activists. I call on leaders across the world to send a clear and unequivocal message that torture will no longer be tolerated, she said.