IRCT Executive Committee

Lela Tsiskarishvili

Lela Tsiskarishvili

President

Lela Tsiskarishvili is the Executive Director of the Georgian Centre for Psychosocial and Medial Rehabilitation of Torture Victims - GCRT. She works domestically and internationally with civil society organisations, human rights defenders and civil activists on organisational development, staff care, prevention of professional burnout, stress management and integrated security. She holds a degree in Psychology and is certified as clinical, team and organisational supervisor. Lela is the founding member of Georgian Society of Psychotrauma, a member of the European Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Lela contributed to the start of Masters Program in Mental Health at Ilia State University, She teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction at Tbilisi State University and is a founding board member of Human Rights House Tbilisi.

Cristian Urbalejo

Cristian Urbalejo

Vice-President

Cristian Urbalejo Luna is a Social Worker and Philosopher. He currently lives in one of the few native towns south of Mexico City. He is the executive co-coordinator of the Collective against Torture and Impunity (CCTI). The CCTI is in charge of fighting torture and impunity in Mexico through medical-legal documentation of torture based on the Istanbul Protocol, providing comprehensive rehabilitation to torture survivors, and providing psychosocial support to relatives of the forced disappeared in the state of Guerrero. The organization has collaborated with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the World Organization Against Torture, the UN Office of the High Commissioner, Amnesty International, the Center for Justice and International Law, and participated in the session of the Committee Against Torture for Mexico in 2019. Mr. Urbalejo has participated in community projects with indigenous communities in the construction of processes of autonomy through the use of community radio stations in native languages as well as strengthening community identity through decolonial narratives. He has taught courses at the National University of Mexico on models of social intervention, critical social work, human rights and epistemology.

Khalida Salimi

Khalida Salimi

Executive Committee Member

Khalida Salimi, a human right activist, was awarded Presidential award as human Rights defender in 2011. One of the pioneers of the Anti-torture movement in Pakistan, she has been awarded the distinguished “Order of the British Empire" (OBE) for her work for women and children rights at national, regional and global level. This recognition was graced on 27 November 2006. In 2004 Khalida Salimi got the UN Recognition Award for her work against torture. Khalida Salimi has also been awarded the Freedom Fighters Prize for 2006 by the PL Foundation of Denmark. She is a trained sociologist, who has served torture survivors since 1987, and is committed to a multi-disciplinary approach to the rehabilitation of torture survivors in a field largely dominated by doctors and lawyers.

Khader Rasras

Khader Rasras

Executive Committee Member

Khader Rasras is a human rights activist, who has worked as senior clinical psychologist since 1990 at TRC Palestine. He has published on group psychotherapy, EMDR, Psychological Testing, and grief. He has experience in capacity building and training of local and international organizations. He has extensive governance experience with human rights and mental health institutes. He has a BSc. in psychology from the Philippines, higher education at the University College London, thesis in child psychology and projective testing at the Universite Lumiere Lyon II in France, and a second M.A in Human Rights at Birzeit University where he is currently an university lecturer. Khader is active in the World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and the IAGP-International Association of group therapy and psychodrama.

Kathi Anderson

Kathi Anderson

Executive Committee Member

Kathi Anderson serves as an elected member of the IRCT’s Executive Committee. In 1997, Kathi co-founded Survivors of Torture, International (SURVIVORS) located in San Diego, California, USA. SURVIVORS’ mission is to facilitate the healing of torture survivors and their families, educate professionals and the public about torture and its consequences and advocate of the abolition of torture. She served as SURVIVORS’ first board chair before becoming its executive director. She is also a co-founder of the U.S.-based National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs. She has extensive experience in health care, human rights, refugee resettlement and higher education. She received from San Jose State University her M.A. in Counseling and from the University of the Pacific her B.A. in International Relations. Kathi is the recipient of many awards, most recently from American Red Cross of San Diego/Imperial Counties, American Bar Association Immigration Justice Project and the United Nations Association, San Diego.

Peter Kum Che Mebeng

Peter Kum Che Mebeng

Executive Committee Member

Peter Kum Che is the Executive Director the Trauma Centre Cameroon, a position he has held for 20 years. Peter is a graduate from University of Yaounde II with a post graduate degree in Law. Peter has founded national networks or acted as liaison officer for Amnesty International, The Africa Human Rights Defenders Network and The Civil Peace Service. He has conducted co- chaired, facilitated, and moderated, training seminars on Human rights, Care for Caregivers, Peace and religiosity, Risk Control, Professional Vitality, and Project Management throughout Cameroon. Peter is a key figure in the Cameroon civil society. He is currently Chair of the Presbyterian Congregation in Yaounde. In his leadership roles, Peter focuses on peace and security, transparency, the fight against corruption,and promoting accountable leadership.

Robyn Smythe

Robyn Smythe

Executive Committee Member

Robyn Smythe is passionate about delivering high quality services to survivors of torture and trauma and has been doing so for over 20 years, latest as Director of Survivors of Torture and Trauma Rehabilitation and Assistance Service (STTARS) who assists 1500 asylum seekers and people from refugee backgrounds annually. She is committed to work collaboratively across organisations. Robyn is an active member of the Mental Health Coalition of South Australia and the Forum of Australian Services to Survivors or Torture and Trauma. With qualifications in Social Work, Disability Studies and Grief, Loss and Trauma Counselling ,Robyn spent a number of years working closely with the CEO of (OSSTT) to set up the Overseas Services to Survivors of Torture and Trauma to ensure that asylum seekers sent by the Australian Government to Manus Island and Nauru had access to the necessary torture and trauma service.

IRCT Council

IRCT Council

(elected in 2020 for the period 2020-2024)

Asia

  • Suraj Koirala, Nepal - Regional Representative
  • Khalida Salimi, Pakistan - ExCom Member

Europe

  • Metin Bakkalci, Turkey - Regional Representative
  • Lela Tsiskarishvili, Georgia - IRCT President

Latin America

  • Cristian Urbalejo Luna, Mexico - IRCT Vice-President
  • Angelina Ospina, Colombia - Regional Representative

Middle East and North Africa

  • Suzanne Jabbour, Lebanon - Regional Representative
  • Khader Rasras, Palestine - ExCom Member

North America

  • Lin Piwowarczyk, US - Regional Representative
  • Kathi Anderson, US - ExCom Member

Pacific

  • Jorge Aroche, Australia - Regional Representative
  • Robyn Smythe , Australia - ExCom Member

Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Taiga Wanyanja, Kenya - Regional Representative
  • Peter Kum Che Mebeng, Cameroon - ExCom Member

Advisory Board Conveeners

  • Hana Hamzeh, Communications 
  • Michael Brune, Health 
  • Sebnem Korur Fincanci, Research
  • Mihiri Ferdinando, Resources and Sustainability
  • Pradeep Agrawal, Compliance 

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