The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, also known as the IRCT, is one of the world’s largest organisations that specialise in torture rehabilitation. They have connected over 160 rehabilitation centres in 74 countries. The IRCT aids torture survivors by connecting clinics to share health-based solutions for those affected by torture.
Many medical practitioners joined forces to provide torture-relief centres in different countries. With lots of these torture rehabilitation centres surfacing across Europe and in further corners of the globe, there was a need to connect their work and share the positive practices with each other.
One of the first torture rehabilitation centres was founded by four doctors in Copenhagen and led by Dr. Genefke. Their centre was made in response to pleas from Amnesty International. The centre was successful in diagnosing torture victims and providing substantial evidence to bring those responsible to court. Dr. Genefke then went on to help found the IRCT.
The IRCT was established in the mid 1980s to join the forces of all the torture-rehabilitation centres and create a global network where ideas and strategies could be shared. It also meant the IRCT could help create even more centres to help even more torture victims. The IRCT grew by recognising that torture victims were plentiful and in need of support. The mission of the IRCT is simple. They aim to grant any torture survivor access to a rehabilitation centre within their network so they can benefit from world-class facilities and treatments.
Once the torture stops its effects will often continue. Many torture victims experience physical and emotional pain during their suffering. Even though this may somewhat subside when they are no longer being tortured directly, they can still live on with physical injuries and psychological distress.
Physical pain continues because of the extent of the physical torture that torture survivors were subject to. On some occasions, torture survivors can be left with reduced mobility and require extensive physical rehabilitation. Mental suffering may continue due to the things that the individual has witnessed or shame of things they had to do at the hands of their torturers. It is not uncommon for these people to have flashbacks, cognitive difficulties, insomnia, PTSD and more after being tortured.
IRCT aim to help torture survivors overcome their physical and emotional difficulties after their torture has ceased. They do this by advocating a number of services within their network and overseeing good practices. The first service they advocate is medical support. The IRCT suggest medical support from examinations to treatment for those that require it after torture. In nearly all cases, individuals will require some level of physical support.
The next area where the IRCT suggest help is in the psychological aspect of their recovery. Torture survivors will be able to access psychological help at one of their network’s centres. All torture victims will require a level of psychological therapy to discuss their experience and learn to move on with their lives.
The penultimate avenue that the IRCT recommends to help torture survivors is to advocate legal support during the aftermath of torture. This may involve bringing those responsible to justice and making them accountable for their actions. It may also involve bureaucratic help and guidance for asylum seekers to seek their asylum.
Another way that torture survivors can benefit from the work carried out at the IRCT is that they can seek social support at one of their member centres. This is a broader service that may involve different things to help the individual get their life back in the right direction. They may need help finding education, employment, volunteering, other support groups where they can make friendships, stable accommodation and more.
The IRCT Philosophy
The IRCT has a specific philosophy when it comes to providing torture victims with a rehabilitation plan to meet their individual needs. They believe torture rehabilitations should be:
- Holistic – the treatment should take into account every aspect of a torture survivor’s needs rather than focusing on one area of their needs
- Accessible – torture survivors should be able to access treatment easily at a member’s centre and without compromising their or their family’s integrity and safety
- Timely – rehabilitation should be offered at the earliest possible moment post torture
- Specific – the IRCT wants all of their member centres to plan for specific and individual rehabilitation plans and implement them in close connection to their client
- The IRCT strives for torture rehabilitation to be funded by governments
More Information On The IRCT
Visit the IRCT website to gather more information on their work across the globe and how they strive to help torture suffers to get the best quality of care during their rehabilitation.