The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) an organisation consisting of 152 centres providing annual rehabilitation services to an estimated 100.000 victims of torture in 74 countries, has concluded its fifth General Assembly on 9 December 2016 with a Resolution, titled Mexico Consensus. In this consensus all members of the organisation demand that all countries comply with their obligations to prevent and prosecute torture, provide reparations to the victims, and increase the funding available to fulfil victims’ right to rehabilitation.
The Mexico Consensus includes a series of conditions, under which States must provide victims with access to a choice of rehabilitation services. Among these conditions are the inclusive and multidisciplinary nature of services and the participation of the victim in decisions concerning the rehabilitation process.
At the same time, the IRCT General Assembly registered its deep concern for the lack of legislative, public policy and other measures necessary to provide victims with adequate rehabilitation, including notably declining funding from all quarters, in a context, in which, as a result of war, conflict and the action of perpetrators, there are millions of torture victims with a completely unfulfilled right to rehabilitation in a great majority of countries in the world, and their numbers continue to grow. Holistic rehabilitation to support these victims is not only a legal and moral imperative, but it is also an integral component of eradicating torture, in concert with other actions to prevent torture, fight impunity and provide redress.
The General Assembly followed the three-day 10th IRCT Scientific Symposium where 132 practitioners and experts shared their knowledge and experience in the field of rehabilitation with over 400 participants. The Symposium was opened on 4 December by a number of prominent persons including Coordinator of the IRCT’s Mexican member Colectivo Contra la Tortura y la Impunidad, Edith Escareño, IRCT President and United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention on Torture Vice-President Suzanne Jabbour, President of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, Sebnem Korur Fincanci, European Union Ambassador to Mexico Andrew Standley, human rights defender and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Attorney Débora Benchoam, and IRCT Secretary-General and United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention on Torture Member Victor Madrigal-Borloz.
In addition to this, there were messages from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the President of Chile, H.E. Michelle Bachelet. In her message, President Bachelet said:
We know that any strategy is incomplete if we do not recognise the central role of the victim, and of an integral reparation conducive to revert the harm caused. I would like to highlight the committed work of the IRCT which, on this occasion, has summoned more than 400 practitioners of the field of health […] I hope that through these sessions you will be able to identify better forms of rehabilitation for torture victims and inspire States and its authorities to adopt all measures to build societies based upon unrestricted respect to everyone’s rights.
The Mexico Consensus also includes an ambitious agenda for the torture rehabilitation movement, including concerted action to advocate for increased funding to the movement, the support to research, documentation of torture, awareness actions and campaigns, and an agenda for international cooperation through sharing good practices, capacity building and the promotion of ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol. The full text of the Mexico Consensus is here.
The members of the International Council of the IRCT also elected on this occasion a new Executive Committee. The new President of the IRCT is Jorge Aroche, Chief Executive Officer of Australian IRCT member Centre, Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS). Ms. Sana Hamzeh, Psychotherapist at Restart Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture in Lebanon, was elected Vice-President. The remaining members of the Executive Committee stem from the remaining five regions, in which the IRCT membership is divided (Asia, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America, and Sub Saharan Africa) or from the group of independent experts of the Council.