The IRCT uses its position – as the largest membership based anti-torture organization in the world, with more than 140 member centres serving hundreds of thousands of torture survivors each year – to advocate and influence policy at the state and international level.
The global pool of funding that is available for torture rehabilitation is far from sufficient to meet total needs. The challenge is greatest in countries where torture is ongoing and torture rehabilitation services are provided solely by civil society organisations that are dependent on these funding sources. As such, our Secretariat advocates on behalf of our membership for increasing the global pool of funding that is available for torture rehabilitation. This will include appealing to OECD governments, the European Commission and private foundations to initiate or increase funding to torture rehabilitation.
Right to Health
Acts of torture violate the right to be free from torture but also the right to “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”, e.g., as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Therefore, governments should ensure that a torture victim’s right to health is respected by including access to rehabilitation in their national health care plans.
Our Secretariat will highlight torture victims’ right to health and work to convince governments about the importance of providing (directly or indirectly) health care for torture victims. Among others, this will include working with the World Medical Association to raise awareness with national health professional associations regarding the health consequences of torture and treatment methods.
Owing to the political nature of torture, torture rehabilitation is a very sensitive issue. This is especially the case in countries where torture is still practiced, and torture victims and rehabilitation service providers may be under threat. Our Secretariat constantly receives calls for support and protection from our members, where staff or clients have been put under pressure, received threats (including death threats), arrested, abducted, and tortured. In other cases, premises are vandalised and confidential data is stolen or destroyed. In order to ensure that our members can work, and hence victims can access the treatment, our Secretariat and members will advocate to governments, international agencies and local organisations about the need for them to ensure the protection of our members and the individuals (staff, clients, and other people that we train/support) involved.
In order to eradicate torture, all States must commit to the absolute prohibition by ratifying the international conventions, particularly the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT), its Optional Protocol (OPCAT) and the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and including them in national law. This will only deliver change, however, if all States fully implement the provisions of the conventions and ensure that their national legal framework (regulations, institutions, and practice) is shaped accordingly; in many instances, this will require that governments implement activities such as criminalizing torture in the penal code, enhancing complaint and investigation procedures, providing redress for victims, training law enforcement officers, reviewing detention procedures, and allowing independent experts in courts´.