Implementing the Right to Rehabilitation for Torture Survivors

States are not only obliged to prevent torture. They must also act to help heal those who have suffered it.

Under Article 14 of the United Nations Convention against Torture (CAT), torture survivors have an internationally recognised human right to “as full rehabilitation as possible”. The obligation to fulfil that right falls first and foremost on States. 

The IRCT and the International Centre for Health and Human Rights (ICHHR) have produced a step-by-step Guide in order to assist States on what they must do to implement the right to rehabilitation. Drawing on a decade of research and over 30 years of practical experience working in all regions of the world to promote implementation of the right to rehabilitation, the Guide represents an authoritative statement of best practice. It can also be used by national human rights institutions, civil society organisations and other actors to engage States in dialogue on how to create rehabilitation programmes for torture survivors.

In conjunction with the Guide on the Right to Rehabilitation, aimed at States, the ICHHR with IRCT have also identified six Global Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which can be used by civil society anywhere in the world to measure the gap between a State’s human rights obligations to provide rehabilitation to survivors of torture, and its fulfilment of those obligations.

The KPIs cover the cover the three main stages of human rights implementation – structure, process, and outcome – and can be used by international, regional and national human rights actors to monitor and hold States accountable for their obligations to torture survivors through a common global framework.

Finally, at the national level, ICHHR with IRCT and our member Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), have produced a comprehensive set of indicators for measuring the right to rehabilitation in South Africa.

It is hoped these tools will assist both States and civil society with implementing the human right of torture survivors to “as full rehabilitation as possible”, and will drive progress on that implementation through, for the first time, clear and consistent measurements.