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We should all make documentation of torture a global priority

Following state issued by International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims ( IRCT), a pioneering organisation on torture prevention and victims' reparation, on the occasion of  International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

Today, on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the IRCT calls on everyone – states, the international community, and civil society – to make documentation of torture a global human rights priority. Torture is one of the gravest crimes and it is our collective obligation to investigate it, document it and expose it wherever we meet it.


Effective documentation of torture is essential for victims to have evidence of the wrongs done to them, to seek justice and gain rehabilitation, to identify victims in places of detention and to ensure that torture victims claiming asylum get the support and protection they are entitled to. Nevertheless, quality documentation practices are as rare as they are important.

To address this, the IRCT has teamed up with other prominent anti-torture NGOs and UN experts to update the global standards for documentation and investigation of torture established in the Istanbul Protocol almost two decades ago. The Istanbul Protocol guides medical, legal and other professionals on how to document and investigate torture with a specific focus on forensic medical and psychological examinations of victims.

The 2020 edition of the Protocol incorporates 20 years of lessons learned and best practices as well as advancements in law, medicine, and science. It introduces guidance to health professionals on their role in various settings and on how to implement the Protocol more effectively.

“It is inspiring to help lead this truly worldwide effort involving dozens of IRCT members and over 180 experts from 51 countries who have invested thousands of hours to make our tools to fight torture more effective,” said James Lin, IRCT’s Istanbul Protocol Programme Coordinator.

This project is led by representatives of four civil society organisations (IRCT, Physicians for Human Rights, the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, and REDRESS) and the four principal UN anti-torture bodies (UN Committee against Torture, UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture).

“Quality documentation has a significant positive impact on the lives of many of the victims we support. It enables them to tell their story and get recognition and justice for the wrongs done to them. With the updated Istanbul Protocol, we will work with health and legal professionals around the world to make sure that more victims can access this essential support”, said Asger Kjaerum, Director of Advocacy.

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