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The Istanbul Protocol – a guide to documenting torture

The Istanbul Protocol – a guide to documenting torture

Bringing torturers and those authorising torture to justice sends a strong warning to all existing and would-be perpetrators. But despite the fact that torture is illegal always and everywhere, torturers are rarely brought to justice, and impunity remains one of the most serious obstacles to the effective prevention of torture.
And while torture survivors’ right to redress is a basic human right enshrined in various international human rights treaties and has been recognised by several international tribunals, in reality, most survivors never obtain the redress they are entitled to.
Effective investigation and documentation of alleged torture can generate reliable evidence that torture has taken place. It is also instrumental in bringing perpetrators to justice and in ensuring torture survivors’ access to justice and right to reparations.

The Istanbul Protocol, which has been endorsed by the UN, provides the first set of internationally recognised guidelines for medical and legal experts on how to determine whether a person has been tortured and how to establish independent valid evidence that can be used in court cases against alleged torturers.

Since its inception in 1999 the Istanbul Protocol has become a crucial instrument in the global effort to end impunity for perpetratorsThe Protocol enables medical experts to:

• Gather relevant, accurate and reliable evidence in connection with alleged torture cases.
• Reach conclusions on the consistency between the allegations and the medical findings.
• Produce high-quality medical reports for submission to judicial and administrative bodies

The Protocol enables legal experts to:

• Obtain relevant, accurate and reliable statements from torture victims and witnesses so as to enable the use of such statements in legal proceedings against perpetrators
• Recover and preserve evidence related to the alleged torture
• Determine how, when and where the alleged torture occurred

Sejla Tukelija interviews Miriam Wernicke, Jose Quiroga and Felicitas Treue on the importance of this protocol, its definition, challenges of it is implementation as well as investigation and documentation of torture and it is physical and psychological impacts.

Speakers: Miriam Wernicke
Areas of Interest / Categories: Human Rights, STARTTS 2009, Torture and Trauma

STARTTS 2009

An Interview with Dr Sue Carter on Oxitocin and Social Monogamy

Dr Sue Carter is a neuroscientist and Co-Director of the

An Interview with Amber Gray on Dance Movement Therapy and Social Engagement.

Movement is a way of organising experience and a way of facilitating healing in traumatised individuals and communities.  Amber Gray is a dance/movement therapist, working with the ways that trauma invades the body and our capacity to move in our worlds.

Polyvagal Theory 1: Basic principles (phylogeny, neuroception, dissolution, social engagement system)

What if many of your troubles could be explained by an automatic reaction in your body to what's happening around you? what if an understanding of several mental and emotional disorders, ranging from autism to panic attacks, lay in a new theoretical approach of how the nervous system integrates and regulates bodily and psychological processes? Stephen W. Porges, Ph.D., thinks it could be so. Dr. Porges, professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and director for that institution's Brain-Body Center, has spent much of his life searching for clues to the way the brain operates, and has developed what he has termed Polyvagal Theory.

Refugee Women; War, Rape and Sexual Abuse (in Conversation)

Refugee women and their dependent children account for 80 per cent of the world’s refugees. Refugee women are arrested, abducted, imprisoned, persecuted, tortured, raped, sexually abused and sold for prostitution. Rape and sexual abuse is the most common form of systematized torture used against women, which are used as weapons of war.  

Mental Health, Conflict Management and Social Action (2) (in Conversation)

Dr Dinka Corkalo Biruski discusses a capacity building program that aimed to empower key community figures to become leaders of change. The approach was based on community psychosocial work, conflict management and social action in post-conflict divided communities.

Sekai Holland in conversation with Sejla Tukelija

Voices of Trauma: on contextual thinking of complex posttraumatic damage (In conversation)

Although modern psychiatry, based on the science of the western world, has many universal values, serious gaps and problems can arise when practised in situations where helpers and victims are of different cultural backgrounds.