Torture in any form and for any reason has been banned by international law, but torture is still practiced on more than a million men, women and children each year around the world. The mental health consequence of this practice is immeasurable.
Torture is according the United Nations Convention Against Torture: “…any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
Torture in any form and for any reason has been banned by international law, but it is still practiced on a million people each year around the world. Survivors of torture are found everywhere. Victims of torture and their families need rehabilitation to make it possible for them to re-establish control over their lives.
UN’s Universal declaration of human rights – article 5 concerning torture
In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In article 5 also torture is banished.
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT)
The Convention against Torture was adopted by the General Assembly by the resolution 39/46, in December 1984, entry into force in 1987. In honour of the Convention, june 26th is now recognized as the International Day in Support of Torture Victims.As of june 2010, there are 146 nations parties to the treaty.Here you can find the up-to-date status.
Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture(OPCAT)
This Optional Protocol represents an important addition to UN Convention against Torture from 1984. In this protocol there is established an international inspection system for places of detention. The OPCAT was adopted by the General Assembly in 2002, entered into force in 2006. As of june 2010, 51 nations are parties to that treaty, 13 more have signed but not ratified.Here you can find the up-to-date status.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – article 7 concerning torture
The Covenant is a multilateral treaty, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, entry into force in 1976. It represents a part of the International Bill of Human Rights. The Covenant is monitored by the Human Rights Committee.
United Nations Fact Sheet No. 4 – Methods of Combating Torture
The United Nations have edited a series of quite useful Fact Sheets. This one targeting combating torture covers lists of pertinent international instruments, treaty monitoring bodies, special rapporteurs, as well as mentions the UN voluntary fond for victims of torture and selected (special) issues. Annex with complaint forms and guidelines.
The European Convention on Human Rights
This convention was drafted in 1950, entry into force in 1953. It established the European Court of Human Rights. This international treaty, ratified by all Council of Europe member states, is to protect human rights and fundamental freedom in Europe. Article #3 No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Convention was adopted by the Council of Europe in 1987. It has been completed by two additional protocols, entry into force in 2002.
African [Banjul] Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted June 27, 1981,
entered into force Oct. 21, 1986.
A legal definition of torture
The legal definition of torture in human rights law differs quite significantly from the way the term is commonly used in the media or in general conversation.
The Psychology of Torture
This represents a great overview helping to understand the psychology of torture, with explanations, aspects on effects and recovery.-
An overview of torture
This website collects a broad and great overview of this topic, concerning subcategories as women, children, after-effects.
“The history of torture teaches us two lessons: first, that our inventive capacity for inflicting pain and terror on our fellow human is shockingly expansive. Second, that the only thing we learn from history is that we do not learn from history: similar patterns of violence and humiliation resurface with sinister regularity. Sometimes even the torturer’s rhetoric echoes down the centuries.”
Clive Stafford Smith, founder of Reprive
A history of torture
Clive Stafford Smith 2013
An examination of our inventive capacity for inflicting pain and terror on our fellow human.
Stanford Prison Experiment
Professor Philip G. Zimbardo, last updated 2018
What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life conducted in 1971 at Stanford university.
The politics of torture: dispelling the myths and understanding the survivors
Joan Simalchik, CCVT
Presenting a overview about the politics of torture.
After-Effects of Torture
Short, useful overview. Otherwise lots of links concerning this topic.
Torture has a long history……of not working
LiveScience, Heather Whipps 2007
Overview of the topic how reliable torture may be, with useful links.
BREAK THEM DOWN – Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces
Physicians for Human Rights 2015
This report is the first to comprehensively examine the use of psychological torture by US personnel in the so- called “war on terror.”1 It reviews the techniques used on detainees, what clinical experience and studies reveal about the long-lasting and extremely devastating health consequences of psychological torture, how a regime of psychological torture came about and was perpetuated, and what the current status of psychological torture is in US policy.
To offer expertise and support to the different human rights monitoring mechanisms in the United Nations system, is the function of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). There are to distinguish two different kinds of bodies in general: some UN Charter-based bodies (these including the Human Rights Council), and on the other hand the treaty-based bodies. The latter have been created under the international human rights treaties, and consists of independent experts. They are mandated to monitor State parties` compliance with their treaty obligations. Most of these bodies get secretariat support from the OHCHR.
There are 4 charter-based bodies. Also we have nine core international human rights treaties (one of which – on enforced disappearance – has not yet entered into force). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, and all UN Member States have ratified at least one core international human rights treaty since, 80 % of Member States have ratified four or more.
United Nations Committee against Torture
The Committee against Torture CAT is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” by its State Parties. – OHCHR.
Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture SPT started its work in 2007. According the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture OPCAT the STP is given the right to visit places of detention and examine the treatment of people held there. – OHCHR.
UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
In the resolution 1985/33 the United Nations Commission of Human Rights decided to appoint an expert, a special rapporteur, to examine questions relevant to torture. This mandate covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention against Torture. – Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Organization of American states (middle and south), on this website there are lots of links to rapports on human rights in general. No special focus on torture. – IACHR.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Situated in Costa Rica, this court is an “autonomous judicial institution of the Organization of American States”. Objectives of this court are the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights and other treaties concerning the same matter. – Homepage in Spanish and English.
African Commission on Human and People’s rights
This commission was established in 1987 by the African Charter on Human and Peoples`Rights, adopted in 1981 by the Organization of African Unity OAU. The commissions task is to ensure the “promotion and protection of Human and Peoples`Rights throughout the African Continent. Headquarter is in Banjul/Gambia. Homepage in French and English.
Asian Human Rights Commission
This Commission targets to protect and promote human rights (by monitoring, investigation, advocacy, taking solidarity actions). In addition to more general information on the topic human rights we find also very solid and informative collection (links) to the situation on torture in various asian countries. There are also statements and reports, up to date press-releases. Very useful to get a current status on the topic. – AHRC, 06/2010.
Australian Human Rights Commission
Established in 1986, an independent statutory organization, reporting to the Australian federal parliament. Targeting the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia. No special focus on torture.
European Court of Human Rights
The Court was established in 1959, headquarter in Strasbourg/France. It rules on individual or State application alleging violations of the civil or political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights (no special focus on torture, which is part of the whole). To mention here is also an interesting fact sheeds collection with examples on violations of human rights in european countries.
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or punishment
The CPT consists of independent and impartial experts, elected by the Committee of Ministers (the Council of Europe`s decision-making body). “The Committee shall, by means of visits, examine the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty with a view to strengthening, if necessary, the protection of such persons from torture and from inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” You find the reports of the Committee here.
From the Committee against Torture
General Comment on Article 14 – the Right to Redress
On 16 November 2012 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.
Torture survivors’ perceptions of reparation
This rapport (112 p) presents a solid overview on the survivor`s perceptions of reparation. It comes along with definitions and discusses the problem of the reactions to reparations and the processes which are necessarily involved.-
Reaching for Justice – The Right to Reparation in the African Human Rights System
This Report seeks to examine the procedures as well as the jurisprudence of the African Commission on the right to reparation for victims of gross human rights violations, in light of the evolving international standards and taking into account the practice of other international and regional human rights mechanisms.
The Law and Practice of Rehabilitation in Domestic Administrative Reparation Programmes’
Essex Transitional Justice Network 2012
Rehabilitation as a form of reparation for gross violations of international human rights law and serious breaches of international humanitarian law has received sparse attention in literature and in practice, despite its vital and immediate role in victims’ recovery. Drawing on experience from a range of past and on-going domestic administrative reparation programmes, the conference explored the normative and legal role of rehabilitation as a form of reparation in times of transition.
Joint Study on Global Practices in Relation to Secret Detention in the Context of Countering Terrorism
United Nations Human Rights Council, 02/2010
Solid and detailed study (186 p.) on the issue of Secret Detention, which is concluded to be a violation of international human rights law, and may facilitate the perpetration of torture. Detailed status quo concerning Secret Detention in the different continents/states.
Dealing With the Past: Survivors’ Perspectives on Economic Reparations in Argentina
N. Sveaass og A.M. Sønneland 2015
The right to redress for victims of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide is soundly established as a right under international law, including both the right to an “effective remedy” and to “reparation”. Reparation refers to ways in which the victim can be restored, and it may be understood as attempts to reestablish dignity, recreate a sense of balance, and reconstruct a life after human rights violations. In this article the experiences of persons affected by gross human rights violations during the dictatorship in Argentina, with regard to economic reparations for their suffering and losses, are explored (pdf, 16 pages).
Gross human rights violations and reparation under international law: approaching rehabilitation as a form of reparation.
The strengthening of international criminal law through an increased focus on the right to reparation and rehabilitation for victims of crimes against humanity represents an important challenge to health professionals, particularly to those in the field of trauma research and treatment.
Here we present a collection of guidelines and articles more specific in approaching therapeutic aspects. Almost all torture victims suffer of severe consequences. There are lots of physical and psychological damages to take care of, amongst the latter as the most important distress PTSD. So the treatment is mainly the same as the approach for PTSD, taking into account the origin of this PTSD.
World Organization Against Torture – 2nd edition – Handbook Series and Reports
A collection of guidelines (links, downloads). They represent “detailed guide to the practice, procedures and jurisprudence of regional and international mechanisms that are competent to examine individual complaints concerning the violation of the absolute prohibition of torture and ill-treatment”. As well we find here annual rapports and similar releases of the OMCT.
DIGNITY Field Manual on Rehabilitation
Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims, DIGNITY 2013
This book with 420 pages provides with a solid and very detailed overview concerning almost all aspects on torture. It intends to “meet the need for sound evidence-based and/or consensus-based advice in attempt to rehabilitate survivors of torture or organized violence”. There are descriptions of physical and psychological symptoms as well as altered behavior/activities. There is a chapter on “context” where the problems concerning f.e. armed conflicts, violence but also practical points (f.e. working with translators) are highlighted. Overview over possible approaches and therapies. Lots of references. A very useful manual. –
Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims, DIGNITY
The RCT Documentation Centre and Library “holds the world’s most extensive special collection of published documents on torture and related subjects. In addition to books, reports, and articles the library holds a large collection of pictures and video materials.”
Rehabilitation of Torture Survivors Resource Kit for Service Providers
IRCT Patel et al. 2013
The information included represents a “getting started” and “where to go for more information” guide. We present options for providers along a continuum of services they might choose to provide, from implementing a survivor service component in their ongoing practice to developing a full-service torture rehabilitation program.
A Remedy for Torture Survivors in International Law – Interpreting Rehabilitation
Freedom from Torture, Ellie Smith, Nimisha Patel, Leanne MacMilan, 2011
In order to render the right to rehabilitation meaningful, there needs to be a coherent basis on which to articulate and measure it, and this requires an interdisciplinary approach which embraces both a clinical and legal understanding. This report explores how remedies in international law are understood, with specific focus on the right to rehabilitation.
Psychotherapy Treatment of Torture Survivors
Pau Pérez-Sales 2017
In order to integrate a common factors approach into psychotherapy research with torture survivors, we need to look towards defining profiles of effect and therapeutic conditions, rather than only looking for universal therapies. As well as asking about the effectiveness of certain techniques, we need to be open to the common factors perspective: What patient profile and under what conditions do patients benefit from re-telling the experience of torture? How should this narration be carried out to be therapeutic?
Monitoring and Evaluation of Rehabilitation Services for Torture Survivors: Handbook for Service Providers
Patel, N. and Williams C de C, A. ICHHR 2014
The manual provides good practice guidelines and suggestions on steps to establish and improve monitoring and evaluation systems and how to conduct monitoring, clinical audits, service-related evaluations and clinical outcome evaluation. It is aimed at managers, practitioners and those responsible for designing, establishing and developing monitoring and evaluation of rehabilitation services for torture survivors in their organisations.
The Istanbul Protocol Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNHCR, 2004
The manual gives a very broad, solid guideline on all aspects of torture. We find a summary on relevant ethical codes, as well as guidelines for investigation of torture-victims/cases. There is a summary on possible physical evidence which includes a description of the most used torture methods. A very useful and solid chapter on psychological damages is included as well as forms for investigation for print-out.
Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishmen
United Nations General Assembly resolution 55/89 December 2000
This UN resolution sends a strong signal for the importance of the investigation and documentation of torture. Endorsing the Istanbul Protocol as a UN manual.
Guidelines for the examination of survivors of torture (second edition)
Medical Foundation for the Care of Victimes of Torture, Duncan Forrest, Françoise Hutton, 2011
This booklet contains guidelines for writing medical legal reports. The advice contained in this book concerns the provision of medical evidence to help substantiate (or evaluate) claims of ill-treatment and torture.
Torture survivors: What to ask, how to document
Miles and Garcia-Peltoniemi, 2012
Your involvement in recording histories and exam findings and in referring patients for specialized care can restore
lives. It can also aid in reversing the “invisibility” of torture survivors that perpetuates inadequate clinical education, research, and development of appropriate therapies.
Working with the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture
A practical guide for NGOs engaging with the process of SPT country visits. This guide aims at providing tor¬ture rehabilitation centres and other NGOs involved in anti-torture activities with easi¬ly accessible and practi cal advice on how to most effectively engage with and contrib¬ute to country visits by the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to promote relevant and high quality outcomes from the visit.
The Torture Reporting Handbook 2. edition
Human Rights Centre, University of Essex. Giffard and Tepina 2015
A reference guide for anyone who wishes to know how to take action in response to allegations of torture or ill-treatment. It explains simply and clearly how the process of reporting and submitting complaints to international bodies and mechanisms actually works, and how to make the most of it: how you might go about documenting allegations, what you can do with the information once it has been collected, how to choose between the various mechanisms according to your particular objectives, and how to present your information in a way which makes it most likely that you will obtain a response. Website with the manual in additional languages.
Medical Investigation and Documentation of Torture
Human Rights Centre, University of Essex. M. Peel, N. Lubell, J Beynon, 2005
A practical guide that aims at providing tor¬ture rehabilitation centres and other NGOs involved in anti-torture activities with easi¬ly accessible and practi cal advice on how to most effectively engage with and contrib¬ute to country visits by the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to promote relevant and high quality outcomes from the visit.
Preventing Torture – An Operational Guide for National Human Rights Institutions
APT, APF and OHCHR 2010
This Guide has been designed as a practical tool to support the National Human rights institutions in their concrete activities to prevent torture. It presents a whole range of useful information, such as good practices. This Guide is part of an integrated CD-Rom package, which also includes associated audio-visual resources.
Forensic examination missions by medical teams investigating and documenting alleged cases of torture: operational manual
International law obliges states to investigate allegations of torture and to punish those responsible. One of the major challenges in fighting impunity is to obtain sufficient evidence in cases against alleged perpetrators. The manual is meant as a tool to be used in conjunction with the Istanbul Protocol. It is an operational tool to facilitate the preparation and operational aspects of a mission for the examination and documentation of alleged torture, particularly relating to the survivors of torture.
Shedding light on a dark practice
This book is primarily intended for health and legal profes¬sionals who work with or are likely to come into contact with torture survivors, but anyone with an interest in the question of torture will find useful insights. These short articles provide an array of illuminating and readable perspectives on different aspects of a complicated subject. Together they comprise an excellent introduction to the many challenges and op¬portunities associated with the task of establishing medical evidence in cases of alleged torture.
Medical, physical examination in connection with torture part I
IRCT Ole V. Rasmussen, et al. 2004
The 4 links focuses on the medical, physical examination in connection with torture and other related human rights violations. The major content theme is divided into different organ systems that will be described with regard to the acute and somatic consequences of torture here and in the following two issues.
Part I contains information regarding Literature review, Pitfalls, Skin lesions.
Medical physical examination in connection with torture part II
IRCT Ole V. Rasmussen, et al. 2005
Part II contains information regarding symptoms related to the musculoskeletal system
Medical physical examination in connection with torture part III
IRCT Ole V. Rasmussen, et al. 2006
Part III contains information regarding Neurological, Cardiopulmonary, Gastrointestinal, Urological, Examination of children
The medical aspects of the UN Convention against Torture
IRCT, Ole V. Rasmussen 2006
The medical work against torture began in 197411. The work took place in internationaland national NGO’s. In the beginning it concentrated on documenting torture. Medical examination of torture victims added evidence to reports on torture12. The only way to stop torture was to put pressure on the government by exposing them to torture allegations. The usual reaction by the government was that the allegations were unfounded, communistic propaganda done by leftist activists.
Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror
Institute on Medicine as a Profession 2013
The report is based on two years of review of records in the public domain by a 19-member task force. The report details how DoD and CIA policies institutionalized a variety of interventions by military and intelligence agency doctors and psychologists that breach ethical standards to promote well-being and avoid harm.
World Organisation Against Torture OMCT
This organization represents “the main coalition of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances, and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” Here we find quite a solid collection of several topics concerning torture, as assistance, rights and violence against children and women, socio-economic aspects.
Danish Institute Against Torture – DIGNITY
The organisations’s proclaimed objective is to help alleviate the human suffering resulting from torture – both for the individual, the family members and the community. Dignity also aims at preventing torture and seeks to achieve this aim by altering the mechanisms resulting in torture in each country.
Freedom from Torture
The MF was established in 1985 in the United Kingdom, dedicated solely to the treatment of torture survivors. MF works in the UK, but the website provides good links and information concerning lots of aspects of torture.
UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture
Established by General Assembly resolution 36/151 in 1981, this fund receives voluntary contributions (from governments, NGO`s, individuals) which are to distribute to NGO`s providing humanitarian assistance to victims of torture and members of their family.
UNHCHR Committee against torture
The Committee against Torture CAT is the body of 10 independent experts that monitors implementation of the “Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” by its State Parties.
This human rights organization helps torture survivors to obtain justice and reparation. Initiated by a torture survivor, established in 1992 as a charity organization in the UK. REDRESS works with survivors to help restore their dignity and to make tortures accountable.
Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT)
APT is a non-governmental organization, offering legal advice on criminalizing torture, providing training on visiting places of detention, advocates legislative reform, ratification and implementation of relevant international treaties.
Canadian Center for the Victims of Torture
The CCVT presents on its website a useful collection of definitions, publications and links, publications and links.
The Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
The TASSC is an organization founded by and for torture survivors. They intend to help survivors with reintegration, focus on support also psychologically.
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims IRCT
The IRCT is an umbrella organization for more than 140 independent torture rehabilitation organizations, in over 70 countries. They target to offer rehabilitation, counter impunity for perpetrators, raise awareness among people.
An organisation of courageous and committed human rights defenders. Founded in 1999, we provide free legal and investigative support to some of the world’s most vulnerable people: those facing execution, and those victimised by states’ abusive counter-terror policies – rendition, torture, extrajudicial imprisonment and extrajudicial killing.
IRCT – TORTURE journal
Media and Resources/Publications contains several publications. You can access The Torture Journal by clicking on teh far right button that says “Torture Journal”. This publication provides a multidisciplinary forum for the exchange of original research and systematic reviews among professionals concerned with the biomedical, psychological and social interface of torture. In depth material on the effects of torture and with a diffent theme in each issue.
Resources for Torture Survivors, Refugees, Detainees, & Asylum-Seekers
This website (set up by a clinical psychologist) collects over 130 useful links to help torture survivors and asylum seekers to find information on lots of topics import to know (guidelines, networks, legal services etc).
Center for Victims of Torture CVT
Works toward a future in which torture ceases to exist and its victims have hope for a new life. We are an international nonprofit dedicated to healing survivors of torture and violent conflict. We provide direct care for those who have been tortured, train partners around the world who can prevent and treat torture, and advocate for human rights and an end to torture.
TORTURE: Asian and Global Perspectives
A bi-monthly magazine on the issue of torture. Torture is often used by authoritarian regimes as a means of maintaining control and suppressing dissent. Our policy is against any form of torture and creates a common platform to everyone in Asia and around the globe, to come forward to speak out against torture.
Preventing torture through investigation and documentation
Use this website to find information and guidance on the investigation and documentation of torture as a means to combat impunity, ensure reparation for survivors and prevent torture.
African centre for treatment and rehabilitation of torture victims ACTV
ACTV is a registered non-governmental organisation in Uganda. ACTV is accredited by the Ministry of Health to operate a medical referral centre that provides physical and psychological care that supports the process of rehabilitation of victims of torture by security agencies or by rebels in Uganda and neighboring countries.
Survivors International is an organization working with torture survivors and refugees who have come from all over the world to the San Francisco Bay Area. Lots of their programs are targeting locally San Francisco Bay Area.
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