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.

Debabrata Roy Laifungbam

Debabrata Roy Laifungbam

Executive Committee Member

Debabrata Roy Laifungbam (b.1954) is an indigenous Meetei from the North Eastern Indian State of Manipur, bordering with Myanmar. He is a public health physician who pioneered multidisciplinary services of direct assistance to victims of torture in the region, which has witnessed long term armed conflicts for several decades. The centre that he set up and leads has been a member of the IRCT for two decades. A passionate human rights defender and environmentalist, he has experienced torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, including arbitrary detention, several times from State agencies since his medical student days. He has been closely associated with the finalisation of the UN Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples (UNDRIP) by the erstwhile UN Commission on Human Rights of ECOSOC, and interacted with the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and WHO, particularly on the issues of indigenous peoples' health and environment. Dr Laifungbam is the founder and Senior Director of the Human to Humane Transcultural Centre for Torture and Trauma in Manipur, a collective of over twenty human rights organisations, which he led from 2010 to 2020. In this capacity, he has closely interacted with the UN’s various thematic mechanisms, such as the Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial executions, torture, violence against women, water and sanitation, and human rights defenders. He presently resides in his native State of Manipur.

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.

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.

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.

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.

IRCT Council

IRCT Council

(elected in 2020 for the period 2020-2024)

Asia

  • Suraj Koirala, Nepal - Regional Representative
  • Debabrata Roy Laifungbam, India - 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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