A health-based response to the problem of torture began in 1973 with the launch of a campaign by Amnesty International to support torture victims in Chile. At this time, very little was known about torture methods or its physical or psychosocial consequences.
In parallel with health professionals in Chile, Sweden and Greece, in 1974 a group of four doctors in Denmark began working on these issues; all were part of a network of some 4,000 medical doctors from 34 countries worldwide. In addition to documenting cases of torture for use in potential legal proceedings, these doctors also began identifying torture rehabilitation methods.
In 1978 the first international medical working group was established to address the rehabilitation of torture victims, and in 1982 Dr Inge Genefke founded the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) in Copenhagen as an independent institution.
In response to a growing need for global support in the rehabilitation of torture victims, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims was founded in 1985, initially as the international arm of the RCT, and, from 1997, as an independent international membership organisation.