News 21 Nov 2016
IRCT and Committee against Torture discusses future of data collection in the fight against torture

“Reliable data is an important element in understanding the global situation of torture and ill-treatment and being able to hold States to account. It is therefore important that all stakeholders coordinate their data collection efforts to make sure that our knowledge is as accurate as possible”, noted Jens Modvig, Chairperson of the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) during a working session between the CAT and the IRCT. Held on Thursday 17 November, the session centred on how to ensure that the experiences of torture victims around the world can best be captured to help inform policies for eradication and reparation for torture victims.

IRCT and Committee against Torture discusses future of data collection in the fight against torture

In addition, the meeting included representatives of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims, and it saw presentations by IRCT staff working on data collection. The meeting also included group discussions with Committee members to collectively identify challenges, opportunities and concrete ways forward in collecting and using data on torture and ill-treatment. The discussion generated a number of concrete proposals for moving forward, including ensuring data reliability and validity, prioritizing confidentiality of victims, collecting robust information on the exact timing of torture events and the specific perpetrator actors and institutions that perpetrate them, and finally moving towards better coordination between all the different actors who collect data on torture.


Encapsulating the importance attached to victim support and empowerment throughout the discussion, Committee member, Abdelwahab Hani, concluded his remarks by stating, “It is an exciting idea that through rehabilitation of torture victims we can reconstitute what really happened and help the Committee properly focus its recommendations to the state.” Accurate data drawn from a standardized record keeping tool such as the DFI database can go a long way in facilitating this process.


Reflecting on the discussion, IRCT Advocacy Director stated, “We are at a critical moment in time where strong and reliable data is important for promoting eradication of torture and support to victims. We must ensure that our individual data collection efforts are coordinated and mutually reinforcing so that we can do justice to the victims whose individual stories lie behind every data entry. The willingness expressed today to work together towards better coordination is a first step in this direction.”


The working session was held in the context of the EU-funded Data in the Fight Against Impunity (DFI) Project implemented by the IRCT. Under the auspices of this project, the IRCT together with 33 member centres across 28 countries designed what is a unique clinical record-keeping database, one that strives to strengthen and harmonise the capacity of rehabilitation centres to collect clinical data and use it to produce human rights outputs to support anti-impunity work. To that end, the database captures an array of information such as perpetrator affiliation, locations and methods of torture, physical and psychological impacts, and the status of legal complaints already filed. In collecting such data, we can observe themes and patterns that in turn will enable a more synchronized approach to eradicating torture.


For more information on the DFI project, and to download the brochure, click here

”The narrative of torture survivors is powerful, but the survivors have been silenced by the perpetrators. Rehabilitation helps them regain their dignity and humanity and helps them speak up again.“ -Dr. Boris Drož?ek

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