15 Sep 2016
EU Heads of Government must show leadership to protect torture victims seeking protection

Ahead of the summit meeting in Slovakia, the IRCT urges the heads of European governments to show leadership in protecting the rights of torture victims seeking protection in the European Union. The summit, which will take place in Bratislava, will bring together 27 EU Member States to discuss key areas of policy including external borders and migration management.  

The European Council has increasingly prioritised controlling external borders to prevent further arrivals over the protection of the human rights of asylum seekers. This has a direct impact on torture victims as they may not have an effective opportunity to present their allegations of torture at borders and risk being re-traumatised through possibly coercive treatment by border officials.  

The IRCT calls on the leaders of Europe to reverse this trend and return to a strong human rights-based approach to the current refugee situation and to ensure that persons with valid protection claims have an effective opportunity to present them and have them assessed.  

"In the torture rehabilitation movement we have decades of experience in rehabilitating refugees fleeing torture and war. We know that it works to help victims rebuild their lives and that many of these policies can be very counterproductive for victims," said Asger Kjærum, Director of Advocacy of the IRCT.  

This informal meeting of Heads of Government is a clear opportunity for European leaders to reaffirm their commitment to human rights and to make sure that these principles guide the EU's approach to managing migration.

 To read more about torture victims in the EU, please see: 

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

To read more about IRCT positions on key areas of the Common European Asylum System, please see

“Rehabilitation is such an important component of human rights in general. Rehabilitation helps bring back those main foundations blocks of a human being: the safety, the trust, the ability to impact the world. - Dr. Karen Hanscom

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