24 Oct 2018
Rehabilitation of torture victims in the context of migration: news from an expert seminar

Refugees who have been exposed to torture have multiple and complex rehabilitation needs. Extensive global knowledge on how to effectively address these so that refugees can rebuild their lives in their destination countries already exists. However, the experiences and possibilities for support in transit still need thorough mapping and research. Only then will torture victims get the protection and rehabilitation that they are entitled to. That was the main conclusion of an expert seminar hosted by the IRCT.

Rehabilitation of torture victims in the context of migration: news from an expert seminar

IRCT Advocacy Director, Asger Kjaerum, introduces expert panel on torture and migration

Over fifty experts, scholars and practitioners working with torture survivors attended the seminar, where expert panelists grappled with the following critical questions for the sector: how can we better address torture trauma in our work with migrants and refugees? how do we identify those who need rehabilitation services? and what can we learn from approaches elsewhere? 

Watch the full recording of the expert seminar here.

Marie Brasholt, Chief Physician, Public Health Team at the Danish Institute Against Torture moderated the seminar. The following panelists, themselves practitioners in the field of rehabilitation and also contributors to the latest issue of the Torture Journal, imparted the challenges they confront every day from the respective contexts that they work in: 

  • Pau Pérez Sales (Editor in Chief of the Torture Journal and Director of SiR[a] Centre)
  • Christina Popontopoulou (Médecins Sans Frontières - Operational Centre Brussels, Centre for Victims of Torture and ill-treatment, Athens, Greece)
  • Carina Heeke (Center Ueberleben gGmbH, Berlin, and Freie Universität Berlin, Department of Clinical-Psychological Intervention, Berlin, Germany)
  • Sabrina Friis Jørgensen (Psychologist, RCT-Jylland)


Refugees frequently face violence on the move, including torture by non-state actors and sexual violence, only to face brutal detention centres that actively deteriorates their physical and mental wellbeing. They must be offered protection against further abuses and access to basic human rights, including rehabilitation.

The seminar, “My mind is not like before”: Survivors of torture and trauma amongst refugees – identification and treatment was hosted by the IRCT in Copenhagen, on 18th June, 2018. It complemented the launch of the latest issue of the Torture Journal, which contains a special section on ‘Forced migration and torture: challenges and solutions in rehabilitation and prevention’.

For more information

Launched in 1991, the Torture Journal is an interdisciplinary scientific journal on rehabilitation of torture victims and prevention of torture. The full contents of the latest issue is available here and you can subscribe to the Journal here. Please contact Harry at hsh@irct.org for any questions pertaining to the Torture Journal.

The IRCT would like to thank the Ministry of Higher Education and Science, Denmark for their support in helping to fund the seminar.

"As conveyed in the latest issue of the Torture Journal, in the case of the migrant victims of torture, they are almost always deprived of any form of control over their lives by an unjust and alienating system.”

- Dr Pau Pérez Sales, Editor in Chief of the Torture Journal

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