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NEWSLETTER NO.4 DECEMBER 23rd 2013

Dear friends and colleagues

Mental health and psychosocial support for refugees

In 2013 we have witnessed several emergency situations, such as the situation in Syria, including the refugee crisis that the conflict has created in the neighboring countries; heavy fighting in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and severe natural disasters such as flooding in Bolivia, Colombia, Mozambique, and the typhoon in the Philippines. As a result of these emergency situations people have suffered and will struggle in the years to come to cope and try to rebuild their lives. In settings of mass displacement the community structures, that usually regulate normal life and community well-being, frequently breaks down. This again may lead to social and psychological problems worsening existing problems. As we all know, mental health is crucial to the overall wellbeing and productivity of individuals, communities, and countries recovering from emergencies. As a possible support to all those involved in trying to assist people in these highly stressful situations, we have gathered and will present some guidelines that have been developed for this purpose, that is to strengthen mental health as part of humanitarian assistance in and after emergencies.

Manuals that highlights the importance of securing mental health support

  • Operational Guidance Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Programming for Refugee Operations 2013 UNHCR
    This operational guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) provides a practical orientation and tools for country operations. It covers specific points of good practice to consider when developing MHPSS programming and offers advice on priority issues and practical difficulties, while also providing some background information and definitions. The focus is mainly on refugees and asylum seekers, but it may apply to others in both camp and non-camp settings, and in both rural and urban settings in low and middle-income countries. This guidance has an extensive link collection on strategies, policies and other resources throughout the guide.
  • Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings: What should Camp Coordination and Camp Management Actors Know? IASC 2012
    Humanitarian assistance agencies try their best to help people with their psychosocial needs in the immediate aftermath of emergencies. In spite of the adversity and challenges they create – are openings to transform mental health care. Can Emergencies be opportunities to build better mental health systems for all people in need? This report provides the proof of concept that it is possible to build back better, no matter how weak the existing mental health system or how challenging the emergency situation.
  • Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) to Persons of Concern UNHCR 2013
    An evaluation reports on how well UNHCR considers and provides for the well-being and mental health of the Persons of Concern. The report offers a new way to look at humanitarian assistance. It calls into question the appropriateness, sensitivity, and empathy of humanitarian interventions and demands that humanitarian agencies support avenues for displaced people to address and heal their own trauma.
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    We appreciate feedback and comments

    As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.300 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    HHRI wish you a peaceful 2014 with improved conditions for justice and human rights for all.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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    NEWSLETTER NO.3 november 15tH 2013

    Dear friends and colleagues

    Mental health guidelines for relief workers in the Philippines

    The devastating Typhoon may until now have taken more than 10 000 lives. This is truly a global natural and human disaster. The typhoon has created severe and still untold mental health consequences for the survivors as well as for their family and network all over the country. The survivors are every day struggling for their lives, and are encountering extremely difficult conditions in the Philippines. And there will be a major and continuing task facing the many who will try to assist all those who have lost everything, and still are struggling with the fact that many of the loved ones have disappeared. These helpers must try to address the many consequences of the disaster and many of them will themselves be among the strongly affected ones. The challenges they are facing in trying to assist and support in such an incredible tragic situation, will remain difficult and wrenching, long after the television news teams are gone and the world’s attention moves to new events and occurrences. Mental health professionals and volunteers may have a long lasting work ahead of them. We know that professionals in the area of psychosocial assistance are being mobilized to create necessary support in this devastating situation, and as this work will be something that will be ongoing together with reconstruction and other efforts to try to recreate lives and communities. For those that work with survivors we want to refer to our thematic pageon the mental health consequences after disaster.

    General information on the situation in the Philippines

    • Philippines: Typhoon Haiyan Situation Report No. 13
      This report is produced by OCHA Philippines in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It was issued by OCHA Philippines. It covers the period as of 19 November 2013. The next report will be issued on or around 21 November.
    • Reliefweb
      Informing humanitarians and has been the leading online source for reliable and timely humanitarian information on global crises and disasters, continuously updated.
    • Humanitarian Response Philippines
      is provided by UN OCHA to support humanitarian operations globally and are continuously updated.

    Guidelines for relief workers

    • Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings
      IASC 2008
      These guidelines reflect the insights of practitioners from different geographic regions, disciplines and sectors, and reflect an emerging consensus on good practice among practitioners. The core idea behind them is that, in the early phase of an emergency, social supports are essential to protect and support mental health and psychosocial well-being (191 pages pdf).
    • Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide
      National Child Traumatic Stress Network and National Center for PTSD
      an evidence-informed modular approach for assisting people in the immediate aftermath of disaster and terrorism: to reduce initial distress, and to foster short and long-term adaptive functioning. It is for use by disaster responders including first responders, incident command systems, primary and emergency health care providers, school crisis response teams, faith-based organizations, disaster relief organizations
    • Guidelines for gender-based violence interventions in humanitarian settings IASC 2005 We also know that in times of crises and disaster there is an increased level of violence, in particular in gender based violence (GBV) . GBV is a serious problem in the context of complex emergencies and natural disasters where normal structures of society are seriously affected and alternative safeguards not yet in place. Women and children are often targets of abuse, and are the most vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and abuse simply because of their gender, age, and status in society. Women and girls that are displaced from their home will often experience multiple traumatic experiences.
    • Managing stress in humanitarian workers - Guidelines for Good Practice
      For mental health workers empathy is an essential aspect of good help. This is also a source for compassion fatigue, vicarious traumatisation or secondary traumatic stress (STS). Early recognition and awareness is crucial to be resilient to these symptoms. Awareness of this is important for workers in areas of conflict and disaster, and in extreme environments such as these, people may be more vulnerable to secondary traumatization. We also know that professionals under this kind of stress may be at risk to perform less efficiently and not perform as they would normally do.
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      We appreciate feedback and comments

      As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.300 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

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      NEWSLETTER NO.2 october 24TH 2013

      Dear friends and colleagues

      Minor asylum seekers and the child’s best interest

      “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
                                                                                               Convention on the Rights of the Child (art. 3, para. 1)

      The rights of children seeking asylum are safeguarded by international conventions and rules, like the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, The European Convention on Human Rights, and the Geneva Convention. The provisions of these conventions have to be tested against the asylum policies that are practiced in different countries. The extent of the protection of children varies, but the kinds of problems that have to be addressed are similar.

      To further secure children’s rights, the Committee on the Rights of the Child launched the General Comment No. 14 on April 2013. Its main objective is to strengthen the understanding and application of the right of the child as an individual to have her/his best interests assessed and taken as a primary consideration. The General Comment explicitly states that “especially in judicial and administrative decisions as well as in other actions concerning the child as an individual, and at all stages of the adoption of laws, policies, strategies, programs, plans, budgets, legislative and budgetary initiatives and guidelines – that is, all implementation measures – concerning children in general or as a specific group” should be taken into account.

      There are several examples, for instance regarding children as asylum seekers, where the best interest of the child is clearly overlooked and where The General Comment No 14 may contribute to the strengthening of the rights of the child to obtain asylum.

      In the process of seeking asylum, there is often little attention given to the children in their own right, not considering whether they arrive on their own or without family members. In addition we will have to pay special attention to children whose parents are severely traumatized and who may feel that they are not capable of providing the neccesary care and protection to their children. These children will not get the benefits of the lone child asylum seeker in terms of special centers and assistance. On the contrary some of the children even become the "caretakers" for their parents.

      There must be a strong focus on assessing the need of a child for protection in his or hers own right, and whether the child has been exposed to torture or ill-treatment prior to or during the flight. The right of the child to be heard is frequently not respected in a way that is required by the UN Convention. In many instances minors seeking asylum are not properly taken care of and often left living in a limbo without knowledge of what their future will bring. For unaccompanied children there seems to be a culture of disbelief about their reasons for seeking asylum. This fact brings problems for children, in particular regarding communication and information about their rights and their future conditions.

      This is especially alarming when it is documented that unaccompanied minors often have “excessive baggage” as being tortured or as survivors of gender based violence. The study of Imperial College by Dr. Matthew Hodes states that those who were unaccompanied had much greater personal experience of war, including combat, torture and detention, than those who were accompanied. Many more of the lone asylum seeking children in the new study (45%) had been involved in combat, compared with the accompanied children (12%). Nearly half had experienced torture of some kind (38%).

      In addition, the extended waiting of a prolonged asylum process will put an extra strain on the child. A report by Berg et al. from 2005 shows that excessive waiting at the asylum reception center is a significant risk factor for the development of psychological problems. Extensive stays at asylum centers increase the strains, and have significant ripple effects on several aspects of the lives of asylum seekers.

      To enable judicial and administrative decision- makers to develop good policies for the best of the child, we as health personnel people working closely with asylum seeking minors, need to share knowledge and experiences of good practice between countries. The recent Court of Justice of the European Union ruling declares that unaccompanied children who have already claimed asylum in another European state should not be returned to that country for their case to be resolved, as it is not in their best interests. This is certainly a step in the right direction.

      Relevant recommendations to Minor asylum seekers

    • Report of the parliamentary inquiry into asylum support for children and young people
      The inquiry into asylum support for children and young people received written submissions and heard oral evidence from over 200 individuals and organisations, including local authorities, safeguarding boards and academics. The panel considered perspectives from health, poverty, housing, well-being and asylum support experts, and heard directly from families with experience of living on asylum support. The evidence shows that the current asylum support system is in urgent need of reform if it is to have regard to the safety and wellbeing of children and meet its obligations to promote children?s best interests. Change is required so that all children can have a good childhood and the best possible start to life. 2013
    • The Asylum-seeking Child in Europe
      Children constitute an important part of asylum seekers whether they arrive with their families or alone. In 2003, there were more than 17 million refugees (43 percent of refugees), asylum seekers and others who are of concern to the UNHCR. Of these millions of people, it is estimated that children under the age of five make up 11 per cent and 32 per cent are children aged six to seventeen. Many of these children have experienced war, violence, acts of cruelty and similar traumas. Others have been exposed indirectly through their parents‘ traumatizing experiences. Such experiences are today increasingly recognized as being a similar burden to a child as if they are assaulted themselves. The adults often have very big problems and the children run the risk of having their problems concealed. Registration data and statistics are generally not produced in a way that makes the exposed situation of children visible. The children‘s reasons for asylum in their own right are rarely investigated.
    • How Today’s Immigration Enforcement Policies Impact Children, Families, and Communities Joanna Dreby, 2012
      What happens to children when their parents are deported? How do these deportations, now more numerous than ever, affect families and the communities in which they live? This report looks at how immigration enforcement shapes family life in the United States, both among immigrant and mixed-status families, and in their wider communities.
    • Mental health of refugees and asylum-seekers Rachel Tribe, 2002
      Refugees are not a recent phenomenon. Since the time of the Roman Empire there have been many examples of people fleeing persecution and seeking refuge and protection in other countries. Refugees flee war, internal unrest and persecution by their own governments because of their ethnic origin or their political, religious or social activities.

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      Our thematic pages

      If it is a long time since you have visited our thematic pages, you might find interesting news. We are continuously adding new articles and headings.

      Latest about our training manual on GBV and Mental Health consequences

      We are constantly engaged in developing our page in a way that offers relevant information to workers out in the field. We have over the last few years working with a training manual for helpers working with GBV survivors. In the beginning of October HHRI conducted a pilot in Oslo, Norway and in the end of November we will conducted another pilot in Adana, Turkey. We are looking forward to share our result with you in the next newsletter.

      Upcoming events

      We appreciate feedback and comments

      As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.300 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

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      NEWSLETTER NO.1 APRIL 17TH 2013

      Dear friends and colleagues

      Transitional justice and gender

      According to ICTJ s gender program women's experience of political violence is often neglected in transitional justice approaches. Often, truth commission mandates, judicial opinions, and policy proposals for reparations and reform have been written, interpreted, and implemented with little regard for the distinct and complex injuries women have suffered. Political transitions can provide an extraordinary window of opportunity for enhancing women's access to justice, reclaiming public space, and building momentum for fundamental reform. Transitional societies should take advantage of the opportunity for social transformation by contributing to women's struggles for justice, voice, and historical memory.

      It is also important to emphasize women’s role in the rebuilding of post conflict societies, and the importance of implementing the Security Council Resolution 1325 into the transitional justice framework. SCR 1325 firmly commits the international community to address human rights violations against women through: Reaffirming . . . the need to implement fully international humanitarian and human rights law that protects the rights of women and girls during and after conflicts . . . [and emphasizing] the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to prosecute those responsible for war crimes including those relating to sexual and other violence against women and girls.

      If gender, and in particular Gender Based Violence (GBV) survivors, are not taken into consideration in the transitional justice mechanisms, if the stories are not told and not heard by the truth commissions and other fact finding mechanisms, the lasting health consequences after torture, rape or sexual violence will not be sufficiently addressed by programs of reparation and consequently, the rights of victims to reparations may not be respected. Furthermore, the lack of information about GBV may result in a situation where the police and the court system fail to undertake the necessary improvement to ensure equal treatment under the law. If survivors of gender-based violence are excluded, the transition will not to bring about a new beginning to all citizens, and full justice will not be delivered.

      Relevant recommendations to Transitional justice and gender

    • Liberia is Not Just a Man Thing: Transitional Justice Lessons for Women, Peace and Security Liberia provides an interesting case study of the role women have played in peace building in the West African context. Liberian women played an integral role in bringing an end to armed conflict. Karen Campbell-Nelson, Ed.D.2008
    • ICTJ Program Report of 2013 - gender justice? ICTJ recognized that to help transitional justice measures acknowledge and address women’s experience of conflict and repression, we needed to have a specific program dedicated to examining the gender dimension of human rights violations.
    • Ignoring cries for justice An interview with ICTJ Senior Program Adviser Howard Varney, a practicing advocate at the Johannesburg Bar, who worked with the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and continues to represent victims of past conflicts. He explains why the vast majority of victims still await justice, and warns that the ongoing struggle for adequate reparation and true accountability should serve as a reminder that the true success of South Africa’s transition to justice remains to be seen.
    • The gender dimension of transitional justice mechanisms An evaluation of how prosecutions and truth commissions punish offenders, record the scope of past atrocities, respect and respond to victims, and promote gender equality in post-conflict societies has led to a synthesis of these contentions—it has illustrated that institutional limitations can make some transitional justice mechanisms better or worse suited for responding to crimes committed against women. Llaura C. Turano
    • Ceasefire, Peace Accords Rarely Address Sexual Violence “In the history of ceasefire agreements up until about a month ago, only three ceasefires ever listed sexual violence. ….. If you don’t make a rule for this, it can go on outside of ceasefire and peace agreements without being monitored for,” When the terms are included, carrying them out depends on command responsibility within the military forces involved, which can be addressed in security arrangements that are negotiated as part of the accords.
    • El programa de ICTJ 2013 - Justicia de Género El ICTJ reconoció que, para que las medidas de justicia transicional ayuden a incorporar y abordar la experiencia del conflicto y la represión de las mujeres, necesitábamos tener un programa especialmente dedicado a analizar las dimensiones de género de las violaciones de derechos humanos.
    • Género y justicia transicional El proceso de implementación de la Ley de Justicia y Paz debería ser aprovechado, por una parte, para capacitar a los jueces penales encargados de aplicarla en las distintas y complejísimas cuestiones derivadas de la investigación y juzgamiento del tipo de delitos sexuales que darían lugar a la aplicación de los beneficios que establece esa ley, y de otro lado, para iniciar un proceso de reconstrucción de la memoria colectiva que ponga en evidencia la forma en que la violencia sexual contra mujeres, jóvenes y niñas ha sido utilizada por los actores armados como instrumento de terror y de guerra. Sólo medidas de esta clase, serán capaces de reparar y restablecer la dignidad de las mujeres, niñas y jóvenes que han sido víctimas de una de las modalidades más perversas y atroces de delitos de naturaleza internacional. Esteban Restrepo Saldarriaga.
    • The official report from the 9th ISSHR conference in Tbilisi, Georgia

      Have a look at the report from International Capacity Building Workshops and Conference on Health and Human Rights that was organized by ISHHR (International Society for Health and Human Rights). The conference was one of the most diverse ISHHR events ever, with participation from 42 different countries. With and a huge range of professions, including counselors, psychologists, human rights advocates, lawyers, psychiatrists, social workers, students and community development workers. As such, the entire event highlighted the importance of the conference as a capacity building initiative, enabling the sharing of information globally and propitiating the development of bilateral exchanges between attendees.

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      Our thematic pages

      If it is a long time since you have visited our thematic pages, you might find interesting news. We are continuously adding new articles and headings.

      Latest about our training manual on GBV and Mental Health consequences

      We are constantly engaged in developing our page in a way that offers relevant information to workers out in the field. We have over the last few years working with a training manual for helpers working with GBV survivors. In March we final conducted a pilot in Bogota Colombia with some wonderful ladies, all dedicated in their work with survivors. We came back with good feedback and constructive ideas for change. The manual seems definitely to be in progress and we will eventually share the results with you.

      Upcoming events

      We appreciate feedback and comments

      As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.300 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Project coordinator
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

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      NEWSLETTER NO.4 December 13th 2012

      Dear friends and colleagues

      New General Comment on Right to Redress

      On 16 November the Committee against Torture announced the adoption of its Third General Comment, on implementation of article 14 of the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT). Article 14 provides that States Parties should ensure a victim of torture with an effective remedy and that there is an enforceable right to compensation and rehabilitation. The Committee against torture has in this third general comment explained and clarified what this particular article means; that All States parties are required to "ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible."

      The Committee considers that the term “redress” in article 14 encompasses the concepts of “effective remedy” and “reparation”. The comprehensive reparative concept therefore entails restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition and refers to the full scope of measures required to redress violations under the Convention. The comments also explain the term “victim” and that it extends not only to victims of torture but also to victims of ill-treatment. For more insight, Christen Broecker has elaborated on points of particular importance and also the obstacles to the right to redress. The article from Amnesty International also elaborates this important right and its implementation.

      As stated by former special rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak it is important to discuss gender based violence in a context of torture , and in particular take into consideration the right to reparation and rehabilitation for women victims of gender based violence. During the 16 days of activism that took place from November 25th until December 10th people all over the world have focused on how to end violence against women. Policy 5 on the UN Women´s 16 day’s policy agenda is «End impunity towards conflict-related sexual violence by prosecuting perpetrators in conflict and post-conflict contexts and fulfilling survivors’ right to comprehensive reparations programs that are non-stigmatizing and have a transformative impact on women and girls’ lives” The third general comment on article 14 of the Convention against Torture will certainly help to raise the focus on the need and the right of women surviving GBV to redress, and the state obligations to provide redress including means for rehabilitation, to women exposed to Gender based forms of human rights violations.

      Recommendations

    • What is reparation? REDRESS is a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice and reparation. This article gives more information about what reparation means for the survivor.
    • The right to reparation for survivors - Recommendations for reparation for survivors of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi IBUKA and its 15 member organisations, the Survivors Fund (SURF) and REDRESS (“the Organisations”) submit this discussion paper to the Government of Rwanda to help progress discussions on reparation for survivors of the genocide with survivors, survivor organisations and other stakeholders. The Organisations propose a range of options that could be explored further with a view to ensuring that survivors ultimately secure reparation, in particular in the form of rehabilitation, restitution and compensation.
    • Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture Implementation Manual The new manual aims to support and strengthen the work of international, regional and national actors involved in OPCAT ratification and implementation. It provides concrete examples of good practice drawn from around the world.
    • Gender and Torture Conference report The conference considered successes in advocacy and litigation under the legal framework on torture: the recognition of certain forms of harm inflicted by both state and non-state actors including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation and denial of reproductive rights as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the practical effect this recognition has had in actual cases to hold states to account for their failure to prevent such violations, and to provide a remedy to victims. Amnesty and Redress 2011
    • No justice without reparation recommendations for reparation for survivors of the 1994 genocide discussion paper July 2012
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      Thematic page on torture with Russian links.

      We are constantly engaged in developing our page in a way that offers information on different aspects of torture, with links to documents in Russian language. Our wish has been to present all the material in Russian but our server does not support Russian letters. For those of you that read Russian please take a look at what is available at the moment. We appreciate feedback on what you think and ideas for further development. So – if there are any other links that you think would be useful for Russian reading colleagues, please let us know.

      Our thematic pages in Spanish

      Do not forget our Spanish thematic pages and please invite Spanish speaking readers to take a closer look at the different thematic pages. It would especially be good if you could give us comments or suggestions regarding our pages in Spanish, it would also be very good if you could send us links on organizations that work in the Spanish speaking areas.

      Upcoming events

      We appreciate feedback and comments

      As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.700 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      HHRI wish you a peaceful 2013 with improved conditions for justice and human rights for all.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Project coordinator
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

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      NEWSLETTER NO.3 NOVEMBER 1ST 2012

      Dear friends and colleagues.

      Cultural Aspects of Trauma

      According to Anthony J. Marsella “All cultures have different patterns, rituals, and treatment protocols for dealing with survivors of disaster, trauma, and extreme stress. Depending on the culture, these mechanisms may include what Western health and medical professionals— psychological experts would classify as, nontraditional or alternative modalities of treatment or assistance.” The increased attention to cultural differences within trauma treatment is related to the need to provide culturally suitable assistance to an increasing population of immigrants and refugees forced by the global situation of wars and armed conflict, natural disaster or for other reasons to leave their place of origin and find refuge and protection elsewhere. This is also a highly relevant issue for helpers arriving at the different places where violence and/or disaster have happened, with the aim of collaborating with local helpers to provide suitable help. Even when people have similar origins, and also have lived through the same events, it does not mean that they have gone through the same trauma. We know that trauma and culture shape our experiences, but this does not mean that everyone from the same culture or place of origin will have the same kinds of reactions to the same events. Therefore, being attentive to the complexities and to the differences related to needs and traditions is of issue here.

      John P. Wilson argues that Culture enables people with the capacity to bond, to relate with each other, to form communities, as well as transferring ideas, values, and way of living through generations. Knowing this; it is necessary that the knowledge and skills the community needs to exist and survive are passed through generations. Within our own culture and the cultural language, we «learn» how to interpret different social settings. This includes also the reactions to traumatic events, the way we cope with these, the way we interpret the traumatic events. In situations of protracted conflict, the mental health effects of violence and social struggle are not primarily due to isolated traumatic events, but also to more extensive losses of meaning, order, relationships, community and the sense of a just social world. Providers of psychological services need a sociocultural framework to enable them to reflect upon their own values, upon how to interact and upon cultural expectations for the help they are offering. The helpers need knowledge and skills for multicultural assessment and intervention. In order to stimulate this important discussion further we are listing some articles that will elaborate on the issue.

      Recommendations

    • Cultural aspects of trauma
      The Istanbul Protocol is the first set of international guidelines for the investigation and documentation of torture. The Protocol provides comprehensive, practical guidelines for the assessment of persons who allege torture and ill treatment, for investigating cases of alleged torture, and for reporting the findings to the relevant authorities. The resource materials presented here were developed as a source of practical reference for health professionals.

    • Preliminary adaptations for working with traumatized Latino/Hispanic children and their families
      NCTSN It is important to provide culturally sensitive trauma-informed treatment to Latino/Hispanic clients. While many of the following recommendations are good practice when working with Latino/Hispanic clients, it is also important to remain flexible. The intervention that works with one family may not be appropriate for another.

    • Understanding and coping with traumatic stress, Part Three: Cultural issues IRCT 2012
      Traumatic stress is not just a problem for western humanitarian workers who relocate (usually temporarily) to developing countries and disaster zones for the sake of their job. In fact, the majority of humanitarian workers worldwide are from non-western cultural backgrounds, working in their home country.
    • Ethno cultural aspects of PTSD: an overview of concepts, issues, and treatments
      The present article offers an overview discussion of ethno cultural aspects of PTSD, with special attention to major conceptual issues, clinical considerations, and therapy practices. The historical circumstances leading to the widespread acceptance of PTSD among conventional mental health professionals, and the subsequent criticisms that emerged from scholars, humanitarian workers, and ethno cultural minorities are presented as an important background to the current controversial status of the concept, especially with regard to arguments regarding the ethno cultural determinants of PTSD.
    • Guidelines for Providers of Psychological Services to Ethnic, Linguistic, and Culturally Diverse Populations
      Psychological service providers need a sociocultural framework to consider diversity of values, interactional styles, and cultural expectations in a systematic fashion. They need knowledge and skills for multicultural assessment and intervention.
    • Identify and recruit staff and engage volunteers who understand local culture from IASC guidelines 4.1
      There is increasing motivation among psychologists to understand culture and ethnicity factors in order to provide appropriate psychological services. This increased motivation for improving quality of psychological services to ethnic and culturally diverse populations is attributable, in part, to the growing political and social presence of diverse cultural groups.
    • Cultural Considerations in Trauma Psychology Education, Research, and Training Sandra Mattar.
      The fields of trauma psychology and cultural psychology have rarely crossed paths within the context of mainstream psychology and psychiatry. Although clinical trauma psychology has acknowledged relevance of the ethical principle of respect for differences in trauma treatment, this has not so far motivated a systematic effort to improve our understanding of how culture is intertwined with our cognitive and emotional responses to trauma. As the field of disaster mental health has come to greater prominence in recent years, it has confronted trauma psychology with how profoundly the forms of both trauma and resilience are, as well as how ineffective traditional paradigms are in transcultural work.
    • Theoretical and conceptual considerations in the cross-cultural assessment of psychological trauma John P. Wilson.
      What are the dimensions of psychological trauma and what are the dimensions of cultural systems as they govern patterns of daily living? How do cultures create social–psychological mechanisms to assist its members who have suffered significant traumatic events?
    • Culture and PTSD: Lessons from the 2004 Tsunami
      It was assumed that survivors of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka would develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an emotional illness that impairs functioning and often requires professional treatment. PTSD may, but does not always, occur following exposure to a catastrophic, dangerous or life-threatening event, such as war, a violent attack or a natural disaster. The development of PTSD is often impacted not only by the nature and severity of the trauma, but also by factors such as previous exposure to traumatic events (such as repeated abuse) or on-going exposure to violence.
    • Facebook

      Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

      Thematic page on torture with Russian links.

      We are constantly engaged in developing our page in a way that offers information on different aspects of torture, with links to documents in Russian language. Our wish has been to present all the material in Russian but our server does not support Russian letters. For those of you that read Russian please take a look at what is available at the moment. We appreciate feedback on what you think and ideas for further development. So – if there are any other links that you think would be useful for Russian reading colleagues, please let us know.

      Our thematic pages in Spanish

      Do not forget our Spanish thematic pages and please invite Spanish speaking readers to take a closer look at the different thematic pages. It would especially be good if you could give us comments or suggestions regarding our pages in Spanish, it would also be very good if you could send us links on organizations that work in the Spanish speaking areas.

      Upcoming events

    • ISTSS 28th Annual Meeting
         "Beyond Boundaries: Innovations to Expand Services and Tailor Traumatic Stress Treatments"
         1 st - 3 rd November, 2012.
         31st October - Pre-Meeting Institutes -
         JW Marriott Los Angeles, California USA
    • The 3rd International Conference on Survivors of Rape
         "Survivors at the Heart 2012"
         8th - 10th November, 2012.
         National University of Ireland, Galway, Republic of Ireland
    • 2. International psychological trauma meeting VII
        "Social Trauma; The Results and Coping"
         Nov 30th - Dec 2nd 2012
         Istanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey
    • Safeguards against Torture and Ill -Treatment.
         E-learning Course 9S13
         Human Rights Education Association www.hera.org
         - deadline for application December 1st 2012
    • The ESTSS Conference
         "Trauma and its clinical pathways PTSD and beyond"
         6th - 9th th June 2013,
         Bologna, Italy.

    We appreciate feedback and comments

    As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

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