IRCT celebrates the end of the second phase of the Global Anti-Torture Evidence (GATE) Project
Survivors of torture are often left behind in judicial systems with little means to claim the justice and rights which they are entitled to. Rehabilitation centres treating these survivors often lack the necessary data collection methods to gather evidence. This evidence would provide support in advocacy, awareness raising and to develop the rehabilitation centers’ critical services to improve the rehabilitation of the people struggling with devastating consequences torture.
Without evidence-based knowledge, rehabilitation centres worldwide cannot claim a seat at the table with State actors to push for more humane policies and a recognition that torture practices are happening right under their noses - and that the responsibility lies with them to change these inhumane practices.
15 IRCT rehabilitation centres came together in 2017 and initiated the further development and use of an Anti-Torture Database, which not only helps survivors of torture in the fight for justice and accountability but also establishes a bond between the centres; making them a go-to when reliable information is needed on trends and patterns in torture. By addressing the issue head-on, they have now concluded an epic two-year journey revealing substantial results from the project.
The urgency for a joint voice in the global fight against torture through strong data-collection methods and approach - unified and robust - is imperative to advocate for the rights of torture survivors. The ATD functions as a clinical record-keeping system that helps torture rehabilitation centres collect, store and analyse data in a safe and responsible way. The data collected and analysed provides survivors of torture with a louder voice and helps them link their advocacy efforts back to their fundamental rights, solely based on evidence of the violations committed against them. The ATD has enabled centres to produce quantifiable and disaggregated data on torture survivors serving to compare information and trends across countries strengthening their capacities and response - paving the way for future areas of collaboration and peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.
Rehabilitation centres are using the data and information revealed by the ATD for a variety of purposes depending on contextual needs. Uganda has used the data as a tool to lobby parliamentarians and to train public persecutors. In Bolivia, data was shared with judges and prison staff, and in Turkey ATD data was used as part of a public outreach campaign against violations. In Palestine, data was used to encourage the State of Palestine to deepen its engagement with UN human rights mechanisms. In Nepal, the rehabilitation centre utilised their data to urge local and regional lawmakers to allocate budgets and implement policies to provide mental health services to survivors of torture.
Not only do centres now have greater insights into the populations they treat, they give survivors of torture a quantifiable and credible voice when the centres represent them when meeting authorities. By putting the survivors of torture at the centre of the data collection, the ATD has successfully made the survivors the experts of their own experiences: reclaiming agency in their fight against impunity.