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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

IRCT Launches World’s First Global Standards on Torture Rehabilitation


COPENHAGEN: The General Assembly of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) has adopted the world’s first global standards on torture rehabilitation services to ensure that survivors of torture can access quality support anywhere in the world.

With the adoption of the standards, the global IRCT membership have made a strong commitment to the torture survivors we serve. The global standards also make clear to the global donor community and others working with torture survivors about what is needed from them to make sure that torture survivors receive quality support.

The global standards include commitments to keep services independent and accountable, ensure non-discriminatory access and the safety of clients, and to support their families. Acknowledging the strong connection between rehabilitation, empowerment and justice, the standards also commit IRCT members to make torture survivors central agents in their rehabilitation work and to help them access justice and advocate for their rights.

“The adoption of the global standards is a vital step to creating an ever stronger, more vibrant, accountable and determined movement. I am immensely proud because this is a truly democratic expression by our global membership and it will make us stronger in our fight to create a world without torture,” said Jorge Aroche, outgoing President of the IRCT following the adoption.

Each year, the IRCT’s members provide essential support to tens of thousands of survivors to rebuild their lives after torture. With these services, survivors are able to reclaim their agency, build better lives for themselves and their families and actively participate in society.

IRCT Secretary-General, Lisa Henry, said, “Everyday all around the world, rehabilitation centres open their doors to torture survivors to help them rebuild their lives. These standards matter because they make our commitment to survivors clear and that help us work together to make it become reality for all survivors.”

For more information

The Global Standards on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims were developed and adopted by the IRCT global membership of torture rehabilitation centres between 2016 and 2020. The standards were initially developed on the basis of a global survey of good practices employed by IRCT members. Since then, they have gone three phases of revision: 1) a technical review by experts from the membership to ensure quality; 2) regional consultations to ensure relevance to the different local contexts in which IRCT members work; and 3) a political negotiation and adoption process in the IRCT’s General Assembly to ensure the widest possible engagement and support in the IRCT membership.

The final document was adopted unanimously by the IRCT General Assembly on the 6th of October 2020.

Read the Global Standards on Rehabilitation of Torture Victims here


For any questions, please contact Asger Kjaerum, Director of Advocacy of the IRCT, at akj@irct.org
Media inquiries in Australia: 9646 6700 or Karen Collier, STARTTS Communications Officer.


As a network of over 150 torture rehabilitation centres in 75 countries, the IRCT is the world’s largest membership-based civil society organisation specialised in the field of torture rehabilitation.

The IRCT grew out of a need to respond to the pervasive use of torture around the world and help the hundreds of thousands of torture victims whose pain and suffering is the responsibility of the perpetrating States. The notion of torture victims’ right to construct or reconstruct their autonomy led to the development of a health-based approach to torture rehabilitation. Health professionals in different parts of the world embraced this approach, which resulted in the creation of medical groups and centres dedicated to the treatment of torture victims. One such place was Copenhagen, where in 1974 Inge Genefke and three fellow doctors responded to a call by Amnesty International to help diagnose torture victims and produce forensic evidence that could help hold torturers to account in a court of law. In 1980 Dr Genefke and her colleagues were given permission to admit torture victims to the University Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and in 1981, she became one of the founders of the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (today, IRCT member centre Dignity). Around the same time other rehabilitation centres were being created across the world and soon there was the foundation of a global network. The IRCT was established in 1985 to articulate the voice and aspirations of this movement, and also support the foundation and financing of new centres. Since then the IRCT has grown to become an organisation of over 150 member centres, in 75 countries.


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