IRCT adopts Mexico Consensus at end of 5th General Assembly and 10th Scientific Symposium: Firm call for states to fulfil victims' right to rehabilitation
The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) an organisation consisting of 152 centres providing annual rehabilitation services to an estimated 100.000 victims of torture in 74 countries, has concluded its fifth General Assembly on 9 December 2016 with a Resolution, titled Mexico Consensus. In this consensus all members of the organisation demand that all countries comply with their obligations to prevent and prosecute torture, provide reparations to the victims, and increase the funding available to fulfil victims’ right to rehabilitation.
The Mexico Consensus includes a series of conditions, under which States must provide victims with access to a choice of rehabilitation services. Among these conditions are the inclusive and multidisciplinary nature of services and the participation of the victim in decisions concerning the rehabilitation process. At the same time, the IRCT General Assembly registered its deep concern for the lack of legislative, public policy and other measures necessary to provide victims with adequate rehabilitation, including notably declining funding from all quarters, in a context, in which, as a result of war, conflict and the action of perpetrators, there are millions of torture victims with a completely unfulfilled right to rehabilitation in a great majority of countries in the world, and their numbers continue to grow. Holistic rehabilitation to support these victims is not only a legal and moral imperative, but it is also an integral component of eradicating torture, in concert with other actions to prevent torture, fight impunity and provide redress.
The Albanian Rehabilitation Centre for trauma and Torture is supported by an institutional fund from the OSF for a period of 2016-2017. The program is based on the ARCT Strategy 2016-2018 and it is covering main areas of functioning. From its beginning in 1994, ARCT has steadily grown to a consolidated anti-torture organization of regional acclaim, introducing three main programs: rehabilitation and documentation, advocacy. Since 2007, onwardsARCTexpanded the component of prevention of torture thereby introducing the litigation component under the legal and training program. In the course of its activities, ARCThas developed the capacity to document cases of torture and to rehabilitate torture survivors through use of findings to pursue justice for torture victims, victims of hate, and victims of justice system in Albania through the provision of forensic and psychological treatment.
These activities have evolved into three main programs:
· Rehabilitation and Documentation:This program entails provision of medical and psychological care for victims and survivors of torture, counseling for victims of torture, andforensic documentation for litigation purposes. Combining proper investigation of crimes motivated by hate and biases with the rehabilitation and documentation was currently introduced by ARCT through national campaigning, training and capacity building for police and youth and community engagement. The newly started 5-years program on the stress management for professionals of the primary health care system remained a positive approach to consolidate the component of rehabilitation
· Access to Justice: Through the programme, legal advice for victims and survivors of torture is offered, public interest litigation conducted, capacity development provided for stakeholders and review of policies and legislation. This component is an ongoing support of the Open Society Foundations. An added values was considered the annual support of the Civil rights defenders, which helped in consolidating the complaint system for the mentally ill.
Advocacy and Communication: Dissemination of information and awareness creation on torture targeting the public is one of the functions that this programme fulfills in addition to advocacy campaigns against torture and related atrocities, at the national, regional and international level. This component was consolidated through annul support coming from various donors, both local embassies (Dutch Embassy, the US Embassy and international donors, such as the Austrian Development Aid.
UNICEF supports ARCT to in monitoring judicial decisions in relation to disadvantaged children with Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination
ARCT through this programme proposes to support the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination to strengthen their role in identifying diverse areas of law application where children, and particularly certain categories of children face discrimination (whether direct or indirect), or inequitable outcomes (whether intended or not intended). The Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination is a relatively new public oversight body, established in 2010. While at first, the Commissioner focused in reviewing complaints by the citizens for alleged discrimination, the Commissioner gradually moved towards initiating more and more ex officio cases and now the institution is aspiring to engage in some more in-depth monitoring and sectoral review to point out not just individual cases but rather more pervasive forms of discrimination.
This goes in line with various recommendations by regional or international bodies, regarding the strengthening of the oversight role of the Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, stated in the Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Council and the 2ndUPR on Albania, as well as in the EU progress report on Albania.Section 2.2. of said report states the necessity to build sufficient and solid anti-discrimination case law.While the staff of the Commissioner are now more seasoned professionals and have sharpened their “eye” in uncovering discrimination, the review of judicial decisions is an exercise that will take place for the first time and the institution still needs the added support of a civil society organisation that has engaged longer in monitoring exercises and applies more flexible management and review expertise.
TIRANA / GENEVA (12 December 2016) – A United Nations expert group today called on the Albanian Government to adopt “a comprehensive State policy which fully recognizes past crimes, including enforced disappearances, and adequately deals with all aspects related to truth, justice, reparation, memory and guarantees of non-repetition.”
“Albania is yet to come to terms with the painful legacy of the gross human rights violations committed under communism,” said a delegation of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances at the end of an eight-day official visit to the country*.
While commending the Albanian Government for a number of positive steps, human rights experts Houria Es-Slami, who currently heads the Working Group, and Henrikas Mickevicius, underscored that enforced disappearance cannot be considered as an issue of the past: “It is a continuous crime until the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared person is clarified.”
“There is still the need to bring truth to the families of all those who went missing under the communist dictatorship, and who keep searching for their loved ones, including by thoroughly investigating all suspected burial sites,” they said.
The experts also drew attention to the issue of judicial accountability: “While new cases of enforced disappearances are currently not been reported, and legislative steps have been taken to prevent the occurrence of enforced disappearances in the future, most of the crimes and gross violations of human rights committed in Albania under communism remain to be investigated and punished.”
Why we mark 26 June - International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
The UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June marks the moment in 1987 when the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect.The use of torture at any time and under any circumstances is absolutely prohibited under international law. Article 14 of the Convention, ratified to date by 159 countries, says that States must ensure that victims obtain redress. This includes the means for as full rehabilitation as possible for all victims, whether adults or children. Article 39 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that States shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims of torture. he use of torture is still widespread - Thousands of victims and their families are in need of specialized assistance that States often fail to provide.The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture fills this gap by financially assisting organizations which in turn give direct medical, psychological, humanitarian, social and legal assistance to victims of torture and their family members.We’ve been helping torture victims for 25 years. 26 June is a day for renewed and increased support to this vital mechanism. It is also a reminder of the ongoing plight of tens of thousands of victims who urgently need help. In the lead up to 26 June, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, please share Jorge's message widely on your social networks. Visit our 26 June campaign page to read about and download key messages and other tools that are being uploaded.
Regional Conference:PREVENTION OF TORTURE IN THE BALKAN REGION-SHARING BEST PRACTICES AND EXPERIENCE 23 – 24 June 2016
Regional Conference: 23. – 24. June 2016, Tirana, Albania/ PREVENTION OF TORTURE IN THE BALKAN REGION-SHARING BEST PRACTICES AND EXPERIENCE
Today, almost all European (including the Western Balkans) countries have ratified the UN Convention against Torture (UNCAT). There is greater awareness of the need to enact laws, policies and regulations to monitor places of detention and thus prevent torture. However there is still much more that can be done. Montenegro, Serbia and Albania have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and have now in place national preventive mechanisms which operate for the preventive approach of the OPCAT. However, there are concerns that domestic laws may require significant improvement and consolidated case law to be consistent with the Convention and other European instruments. Further work may also be needed to ensure the full implementation of laws that should protect against mistreatment and violence within places of detention. This Closing Conference, held in partnership with international expertise from YIHR Montenegro, ARCT, YIHR Serbia and IRCT Denmark will provide a neutral space for candid discussion, on a non-attributable basis, about the key challenges to the full implementation of the international principles embodied in the Convention against Torture, best practices on the law enforcement and cooperation with civil society actors with a focus on eliminating torture in places of deprivation of liberties. Through plenary sessions and discussions, participants will share best practices, innovative approaches, challenges and opportunities and seek ways in which to enhance future co-operation at both domestic and regional levels.
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