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The majority of asylum-receiving countries do not have the appropriate systems in place to identify victims of torture.
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Majority of asylum-receiving countries do not have appropriate systems to identify victims of torture



The majority of asylum-receiving countries do not have the appropriate systems in place to identify victims of torture.

This is according to a new report by the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), which conducted an 18-country overview of asylum systems in Europe, North America and the Pacific.

The countries considered in the report are: Bulgaria; Croatia; Finland; France; Germany; Hungary; Ireland; Italy; Netherlands; Sweden; Armenia; Kosovo; Moldova; Turkey; Canada; USA; Australia; New Zealand.

What does it mean to not be identified as a victim of torture? Asylum-seekers, who have survived torture and trauma and requested protection, may instead find themselves detained and re-traumatised, deported through “accelerated procedures” at the airport, or have the submitted medico-legal evidence of torture misread or ignored by immigration officials.

“While these may be the worst-case scenarios, our research found that many developed countries still do not have the proper policies in place to ensure that victims of torture are not re-traumatised by the asylum process, or are deported back to the country where they were tortured,” said Rachel Towers, Legal Advisor at the IRCT and author of the report.

Key findings of the 18 represented countries in the report include:


  • Fourteen countries (Armenia, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kosovo, Moldova, Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand) have no legislation in place determining who is in charge of identifying victims of torture;
  • While medico-legal reports, a physical and psychological assessment of torture allegations conducted by an expert, are the best form of evidence in asylum cases, only three countries (Kosovo, Moldova and the Netherlands) mention them in the law;
  • In eight countries (Germany, Finland, Ireland, USA, Moldova, France, Turley and Canada), victims of torture may be expected to bear the costs of producing a medico-legal report, which costs on average 800 EUR.


The IRCT calls on state authorities to put policies in place to ensure the early identification of victims of torture in their asylum systems.

Early identification and proper documentation of torture allegations must be complemented by access to appropriate and holistic rehabilitation to which they have a right. These elements are essential for the individual to integrate into, and contribute to, the host society.



 Download the full report Recognising victims of torture in national asylum procedures.



Media contact


Fabio Pereira, IRCT Acting Head of Communications
Tel: +45 36 93 87 27 || Mobile: +45 29 87 90 84


About the IRCT

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims is an independent non-profit global organisation with a membership of 144 rehabilitation centres in more than 70 countries and with over 25 years' experience. The work of the IRCT is threefold:
* Rehabilitation of torture victims and their families
* Ensuring victims' access to justice
* Eradication of torture

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