In the beginning of 2018, the UN Committee against Torture and the Special Rapporteur on Torture published updated standards on support and protection for torture victims in the context of migration. These standards draw extensively on IRCT's health based expertise and knowledge about how to ensure a trauma informed approach to asylum procedures and reception of refugees.

The two UN expert mechanisms established three elements that are crucial in ensuring that torture victims receive the protection and support they are entitled to:

  • Torture survivors cannot be returned to States where there are no rehabilitation services available to them;
  • States must apply asylum processes that ensure that torture survivors are not disadvantaged due to psychological trauma such as Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD);
  • All persons alleging past acts of torture must be afforded an independent medical examination in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol so that they can prove their claims.

For more detail, read the UN Committee against Torture's General Comment no. 4 and the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to the Human Rights Council. These authoritative statements on torture victims' rights provide a strong foundation for torture victims and rehabilitation centres to advocate for legal processes that provide an effective remedy to ensure victims’ rights to protection and rehabilitation. 


IRCT materials on torture victims rights in the context of migration are available here:

The IRCT's position paper

Falling Through the Cracks: Asylum Procedures and Reception Conditions for Torture Victims in the European Union

Erika Sigvardsdotter et al, "Prevalence of torture and other war- related traumatic events in forced migrants: A systematic review", in: TORTURE, Vol. 26 No. 2 (2016), pp. 41-73.


Background information

Everyday IRCT members in all corners of the world work to rehabilitate torture survivors whom have left their home countries to seek protection from torture. Rehabilitation practitioners with decades of experience in successfully helping survivors rebuild and lead fulfilling lives in their host countries, support patients by providing holistic rehabilitation services.

Unfortunately, practitioners often see their efforts frustrated by asylum processes that do not take into account the physical and psychological effects of torture on individuals and families. Victims are often labelled as not credible in asylum proceedings due to conditions such as PTSD, which may lead to inconsistencies in recounting true events; they have been denied the possibility to document that they were in fact tortured in their home country; and they eventually are expelled to places where no rehabilitation support is available, leading to catastrophic deterioration of their already fragile psychological state. The result? Torture victims with legitimate protection claims are rejected and re-traumatised instead of gaining access to the protection and help they are entitled to receive.

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