14 Oct 2016
OSCE Workshop: Challenges and ways forward in implementing the right to rehabilitation in Europe

The IRCT was among the participants attending an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) workshop in Vienna on 12 October 2016. Hosted by the Convention against Torture Initiative (CTI) and the OSCE, the workshop was a follow-up to a CTI seminar on rehabilitation for torture victims, held in Copenhagen in June 2016.

Panellists from the Swedish Red Cross and OSCE Centre in Bishkek presented positive examples of models for implementing the right to rehabilitation, looking at Sweden and Kyrgyzstan. Despite their different contexts, both countries experience challenges with maintaining the independence of rehabilitation providers working in close dialogue with state authorities, and accessing victims in more remote areas.

The issue of how to provide rehabilitation services that are accessible, available and appropriate to all victims of torture remains a key topic, particularly at a time when additional funding is needed to ensure the sustainability of rehabilitation services. Long waiting lists and not enough qualified professionals often prevent rehabilitation centres from providing rehabilitation promptly, and to all victims.

At the workshop, the IRCT highlighted the importance of clear and consistent criteria and specific indicators to measure implementation. States’ obligations to provide rehabilitation must be reflected in domestic law, policy and national budgets. The continuous monitoring of victim numbers and their needs is vital to ensuring that rehabilitation programmes are of an appropriate quality and accessible to all on a non-discriminatory basis.  

Questions from state participants included what role they should play in ensuring sustainability of rehabilitation services, whether existing frameworks for the protection and rehabilitation of victims of crime could encompass rehabilitation for torture victims, and how to identify needs and capacities to add value on the ground. Continued dialogue with civil society, particularly specialised rehabilitation providers, was recognised by state participants as key to the successful implementation of the right to rehabilitation.  

“We welcome events such as this workshop where state parties have open dialogue with civil society to discuss the practical challenges faced by those delivering the services that victims are entitled to and providing a forum for exchanging good practice models that states may be able to adapt to their own country context. Moving forward, we hope states will focus on ways to identify and meet the needs of victims of torture and secure funding in their national budgets so that these vital services are sustainable in the long-term,” said Rachel Towers, Advocacy Advisor at the IRCT.

The IRCT was invited to attend the session as a participant and representative of the Civic Solidarity Platform, a coalition of over 60 NGOs committed to fighting torture and defending human rights in Europe, Eurasia and North America.

“Rehabilitation helps restore the physical and mental state of torture victims.” - Olga Sadovskaya, Deputy chair of the Committee Against Torture

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