As a network of more than 160 torture rehabilitation centres in over 70 countries, the IRCT is the world’s largest membership-based civil society organisation specialised in the field of torture rehabilitation.
The work of the IRCT provides context to health-based rehabilitation within all pillars of the global fight against torture: prevention, accountability and reparation.
Together our movement is effective in fighting torture across the globe. The core strength of the movement stems from a triad of values: Solidarity, Equality and Democracy.
Our key distinctive feature is a holistic health-based approach to torture rehabilitation. In addition, we define ourselves as private, non-partisan, and not-for-profit, as well as being governed by democratic structures.
Our diverse membership shares three common characteristics; each member is a legally independent organisation that is rooted in civil society and each provides rehabilitation services to at least 50 torture victims annually. All of our members are committed to the global movement, and its mission to further the right to rehabilitation of every torture victim.
The IRCT grew out of a need to respond to the pervasive use of torture around the world and help the hundreds of thousands of torture victims whose pain and suffering is the responsibility of the perpetrating States. The notion of torture victims’ right to construct or reconstruct their autonomy led to the development of a health-based approach to torture rehabilitation. Health professionals in different parts of the world embraced this approach, which resulted in the creation of medical groups and centres dedicated to the treatment of torture victims. One such place was Copenhagen, where in 1974 Inge Genefke and three fellow doctors responded to a call by Amnesty International to help diagnose torture victims and produce forensic evidence that could help hold torturers to account in a court of law. In 1980 Dr Genefke and her colleagues were given permission to admit torture victims to the University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and in 1981, she became one of the founders of the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (today, IRCT member centre Dignity). Around the same time other rehabilitation centres were being created across the world and soon there was the foundation of a global network. The IRCT was established in 1985 to articulate the voice and aspirations of this movement, and also support the foundation and financing of new centres. Since then we have grown to become an organisation of more than 160 member centres, in over 70 countries.
Our vision is a world without torture. However, as long as the practice of torture continues, we need to ensure that persons and communities subjected to torture receive full reparation and health-based rehabilitation, which they are entitled to.
Our mission is to ensure that torture victims are able to access appropriate health-based torture rehabilitation services. We aim to tackle impunity, achieve full access to justice for victims of torture and prevent torture worldwide. We strive to become a leading hub of global knowledge on health-based rehabilitation and lead global consensus-making processes on the right to rehabilitation’s contents, scope and standards.