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Torture Victims Day 2014 Panel discussion – full transcript

Ming Yu:                   Good evening everyone, it’s lovely to see you here. This is the first time we’ve used this space and I think it befits our event tonight very well. A very warm welcome to you all, my name is Ming Yu from Amnesty International and I’m the Stop Torture campaigner. I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation and I’d like to pay my respect to their Elders past, present and future.

Tonight has been organised to mark the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture which falls on the 26th of June. This International Day is an opportunity for thousands of people worldwide to come together, remind the world that torture is cruel, abhorrent and always unacceptable, yet torture continues to be practiced by more than 141 governments even today. 30 years ago in 1984, governments agreed to the landmark UN Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, also called CAT. In 1987 the United Nations proclaimed the 26th of June the International Day in an effort to promote the voices of survivors and emphasise the need for governments to end torture once and for all.

No Impunity” is this year’s global theme chosen by many community organisations marking this date. As we well know, impunity is the failure of our governments to fully investigate violations; to bring to justice and punish perpetrators; to provide victims with effective remedies; and to take all necessary steps to prevent a recurrent of torture.

Tonight is a joint event between STARTTS and Amnesty International.

STARTTS is a non-profit organisation which for 25 years has provided critical services to survivors of torture and refugee trauma, including psychological treatment, social support and community development. These are vital services which help survivors to heal the scars of torture and rebuild their lives in Australia.

Amnesty International has been campaigning for more than 50 years worldwide to stop torture. We partner with torture survivors and we work to achieve justice for them.

So STARTTS and Amnesty, we’re delighted to welcome you all to the panel discussion entitled “Difficult things happen: why are governments justifying torture in our name?” We have the wonderful Richard Ackland as our moderator tonight, who I will introduce shortly, and we have a very interesting panel who will share international, regional and Australian perspectives: Dr Kiran Grewal, Edward Santow, Mohamed Dukuly, and I’m very pleased that Jorge Aroche has been able to join us on the panel as he has very extensive international experience.

Now, many of you are familiar with Richard Ackland. Richard’s got a track record of more than 30 years in journalism and publishing. His early career was spent in print media specialising in finance and he was the Canberra correspondent for The Australian Financial Review in the ‘70s, went on to host Late Night Live on ABC Radio National and, later, the breakfast programme Daybreak. In 1999 he won a Gold Walkley Award for his work as a writer and presenter for ABC TV’s Media Watch. Richard also founded Law Press of Australia which publishes the respected journals Justinian and The Gazette of Law & Journalism. He’s been admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and has degrees in economics and law. And after 14 years as a columnist at The Sydney Morning Herald, Richard is currently writing for The Saturday Paper.

Please make the panel and Richard welcome.

Richard Ackland:        Thank you Ming Yu for that introduction and we’ve got a terrific panel. The great virtue of the panel is that none of us can see you because we’ve got really strong lights; you’re just a sort of blurry mass out there. So, identification issues won’t be a problem tonight. But, as Ming Yu said, tomorrow is the International Day of Torture and we really want to tease out some of the issues of this ongoing and ghastly problem: what can be done about it; is anything really being done about it; and are the nations that should be doing something about it actually doing anything? So, with the help of the panel we’re going to solve it tonight.

Difficult things happen: why are government’s justifying torture in our name?” is the title of tonight’s event. And “difficult things happen” was the immortal remark of Tony Abbott in Sri Lanka at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference when he’d just met the Sri Lankan President, who I think universally is recognised for leading a fairly ghastly regime. But nonetheless, I think it’s a very fitting hook on which to hang the discussion tonight.

                                 So, I’ll give you a few more details about our terrific panel.

From my left here, on the far left is Ed Santow, Ed is the CEO of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre and he’s had a distinguished previous career in academia at the University of New South Wales and the Gilbert & Tobin Law Centre.

Closest to me on the left is Mohamed Dukuly. Mohamed works for STARTTS and is part of a team that runs the Families in Cultural Transition program. He’s had several years of practical experience in refugee settlement services as well as group work with refugee families and individuals.

On my far right is Jorge Aroche who is a clinical psychologist and he’s CEO of STARTTS. He’s worked directly with torture survivors over 25 years, is extremely knowledgeable. He’s had an enormous amount of experience in this area, widely regarded as an expert in torture and trauma rehabilitation, particularly among refugees, and has presented his work around the world.

And on my immediate right is Dr Kiran Grewal. Kiran is a lawyer, she’s at the University of Sydney and internationally she’s worked in the areas of immigration, human rights, international criminal law. She’s the author of an Amnesty International report evaluating the role of the UN administration in post-conflict Kosovo and has served as a Monitor at the UN Special Court for Sierra Leone.

I could go on for hours and hours with all sorts of very fine details about our guests tonight. But Kiran I just wondered, I think you’d be a fitting person to start the discussion. It’s a word that’s just bandied around and possibly there’s a fairly loose understanding of it, but what really is the accepted international understanding and definition of “torture”?

Kiran Grewal:              So there’s the lawyer in me that wants to take you straight to the Convention Against Torture, but most people are not particularly familiar with that definition. So then there is the Amnesty side of me which says well, torture is actually a very powerful word to name and shame and certainly, as we were talking about a little bit earlier you made mention of the UN speaking in very strong terms to the Vatican about the Roman Catholic Church.

And now, more recently, I’ve been working with the Sri Lankan and Nepali police and armed forces and I now have a slightly schizophrenic relationship with the word “torture” because certainly in Sri Lanka it’s the T word that is never spoken. And partly because of the defensiveness of course, but partly because the police officers and army officers that I’ve spoken to feel that the minute you say the word “torture” to them, either they all agree with you that actually torture is wrong, it’s just that slapping a guy who’s not telling the truth is not torture; or they feel like okay, it’s all very well for you to come in and accuse us – because it is an accusatory term – you have the luxury of being an international lawyer coming from a nice developed country, you haven’t actually had to deal with these terrorists who are blowing up our people. And certainly in Sri Lanka, you have 40 years of incredible political violence where it’s very hard from an outside perspective to come in and say, “What you’re doing is torture” when they will come back and say, “Yes, but look at what you do to your asylum seekers, is that torture? Why don’t you call that torture?” So the politicisation of the term also means that now I sort of steer clear of it.

Richard Ackland:        Yes, so there’s a sense that because of the insurgency and the civil war in Sri Lanka that sometimes the authorities think it’s justified?

Kiran Grewal:              Certainly the individual military and police officers, they will start by saying, “Oh absolutely, torture is wrong” and then within a few minutes of conversation they’ll say, “But”. It’s very interesting the ways in which people at an abstract moral level will say, “Absolutely, torture is wrong” but then the ways in which they make sense of what they themselves have been involved in, it’s almost as if they become martyrs, “Well, it’s easy for you to say that this is wrong, but we had to save these people and then that means that we have to do – as Tony Abbott said – difficult things”.

Richard Ackland:        Yes. I think Dick Cheney’s phrase was “Waterboarding is a no-brainer” in order to extract information. Ed, is there any occasion that you think torture could be justified?

Edward Santow:         No. It’s really, really clear. International law couldn’t be clearer on this. Most domestic law, if not all domestic law, is also really, really clear that torture is always illegal. To use the technical legal term, it’s a non-derogable right. There are no circumstances in which torture is ever permitted. I think when we start making justifications, when we start blurring that very, very bright line, then we get into terrible, terrible trouble. I’m not saying that conflicts ever make this easy; it makes it very, very difficult to insist on the bright line. But I’m a big fan of the former Israeli Supreme Court Chief Justice who said that – I’m para-phrasing slightly here – in a democracy you have to fight with one arm tied behind your back. And that statement that he made is not just a self-denying statement; it’s also a statement of enlightened self-interest. The reason that we are so clear in international and domestic law about torture is because it is in our own interests always to prohibit torture.

Some of our own work, which I’m sure I’ll get to speak to later on, has shown how where you do make that line much more grey about what is permissible and what is not permissible in the context of torture, it actually can come back to bite the people in the position of, say, the Australian military because you open the door to far, far more brutal behaviour on both sides of the conflict.

Richard Ackland:        That’s interesting. A while ago, after 9/11 the American government came up with a new definition of torture, I think they called it “enhanced interrogation”. But was that still really torture?

Edward Santow:         Absolutely it was. And I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any sane international lawyer who would take a different view.

Richard Ackland:        Because it was lawyers that wrote and approved of and certified “enhanced interrogation” as being quite permissible and legitimate.

Edward Santow:         Well yes, but it was some lawyers, it was a very small number of lawyers. I mean, look, the old statement about lawyers, if you get two lawyers in the room you’ll get three opinions.  The fact is that 99% of lawyers, or probably more than 99% of international lawyers with any track record in this area are absolutely clear, that those so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, constitute torture. And you’re always going to be able to find someone, if you pay them enough or if they’re ideological enough to say the contrary, but it’s, I guess, stretching the legal elastic to get to a point where you say, “Well, there are these two legitimate views and you have to choose one or the other”. There aren’t. There’s one legitimate view and then there’s another view that is held by a very, very small number of lawyers and on this one I’d go with the consensus.

Jorge Aroche:            And Richard, if I can come in and throw something in there?

Richard Ackland:        Yes, go ahead.

Jorge Aroche:            If you look at it from the point of view of the individual that is affected by that treatment, and we know that torture affects the body but in particular it affects the brain, there’s really no difference between waterboarding and other kinds of cruel treatment that from the legal point you might argue never pose a threat to actual life, although even that is wrong. Or you could argue that it’s only the sanitised conditions. The reality is, and certainly our experience shows, that in terms of what damages in torture it’s the actual sensation of terror, the impact of those emotions on the limbic system and the brain, and the emotional scars that endure after. And there’s certainly no difference between somebody who is in utter terror because they think they’re drowning and somebody who is actually drowning.

Richard Ackland:        I’m interested, in your experience in working with torture survivors and victims, have there been occasions that you know of where the torturer has actually extracted and obtained the information they needed and wanted, as opposed to just being told anything in order for the torture to stop?

Jorge Aroche:            Look, luckily I’m not an expert on that side of the equation.

Richard Ackland:        So you’ve never actually done it yourself?

Jorge Aroche:            No, but from the experiences of clients that we work with, of course sometimes the truth comes out, but as an interrogator how on earth do you know when it is the truth that comes out and when it’s anything that a person says just to get out from that situation? And that’s what makes whatever comes out of the process of torture completely irrelevant, and that’s why the ticking bomb is an area. It makes no logical sense.

Richard Ackland:        Okay, we’re heard from Jorge, we’ve heard from two lawyers; Mohamed, can you tell us about your experience of working with torture victims and survivors and the sort of challenges that they face?

Mohamed Dukuly:      I think I will pick up from where Jorge stopped, that logically whatever happens you can never get anything concrete in terms of whether you want to extract facts or not through torture. And if you think you’ve been successful in one, how many people are you going to torture before you come through to get one fact?

This is the exact question I gathered from one of our clients who really wanted his story to be told here. And he said he was among a group of people where they were moving from their capital city, running away from the war, going across to another country – I won’t say the country’s name – to seek refuge. At the checkpoint they were all caught. He looked very good, good-looking; he resembled someone who was working in the government. For that reason, he must know about what the government is doing, where are the government forces and what are they about to do? He has to say something. They beat him up, nothing happened. So we’ve got to do something for him to say something to us. So what they did is they picked up some pliers and this young man, they put the pliers on his penis and squashed it. And even now, while I’m narrating the story, you can feel the shock in him. Nothing came out of him, nothing he said.

So his question is how many people will undergo that in order to get the truth? And he left here devastated. So the biggest threat to his recovery is the fact that many people who’ve done that are still going about their normal business. So you can see that great pain for him. So that’s just one story out of the many, many stories I’ll be narrating here today. So in short, there’s no justification and nothing better comes out of torture except the destruction of human life.

And one more in addition to that, some of the people who watched that happen to him ended up becoming a torturer in another group of militants who came to fight back for liberation. It all started with good intentions. They’ve killed our people, we’re going to move over, we’re going to put ourselves together to come back and fight for our people. They come back and they do exactly what other people did. It keeps going around and around and around. When is there going to be a cycle-breaker? That’s why there’s a need to stop torture.

Richard Ackland:        Normally in a traditional legal system, evidence procured by torture is not admissible. But it’s different in Guantanamo Bay at the Military Commissions. Have there been cases where evidence obtained under torture is admissible?

Edward Santow:         The short answer is that it’s been incredibly ineffective. The Khalid Sheikh Mohammed case is the one that is trotted out as the one where he was waterboarded and probably subjected to other forms of torture as well. It’s still not been put to trial after so many years being held.

Richard Ackland:        Because of the torture?

Edward Santow:         That’s certainly one of the main reasons, yes. And secondly, for precisely the reason that Jorge gave before, it is so difficult to discern what is correct information and what’s incorrect information when someone is disclosing under torture or other forms of serious duress information that the torturer is asking for.

Richard Ackland:        Yes.

Kiran Grewal:              Can I just add something?

Richard Ackland:        Yes.

Kiran Grewal:              There are a couple of things that have come out of our research, one just sort of following on from what you’ve just said about the reliability of the information. So my colleague has done interviews with former CIA people who resisted using torture and almost uniformly, regardless of their moral position on it, almost uniformly they said the reason they didn’t use torture was because they knew as professionals that it actually wasn’t the best way to get information. So the moral argument was to one side, but as professional interrogators they knew that that wasn’t the best way to get reliable information, which is really interesting to know. And, in fact, I spoke to a retired Sri Lankan senior army officer who went on an absolute rant about Zero Dark Thirty and said he had been dragged along to see this film and was absolutely disgusted by it. And obviously he was disgusted again for moral reasons, but also because he said, “It just conveys a completely wrong image, that actually you get reliable information”. And he was the head of interrogations at one stage in his career. So I thought that was actually very interesting.

The other thing that’s come out in our research that I think is really important to bear in mind, which is why I try and steer clear of getting stuck in the debate about torture, is the reason that people are tortured – or whatever the various terms that we use; in most of our work we talk about improper use of force or use of excessive violence, or whatever it is – there’s an assumption that people torture to get truth or information. And quite often when you initially speak to people, police officers or army officers, that’s what they’ll say, “Yeah, we torture to get confessions or to get information”. Actually, when you dig a little bit deeper the vast majority of reasons why people are being tortured actually has nothing to do with them having any particularly useful information.

So in Sri Lanka, the biggest group of people who are tortured – would anyone like to guess who they are? They’re trishaw drivers; they’re the people who drive tuk-tuks. So when I ask, “Well, so wait a minute, you’re torturing people to get confessions or information. What exactly is the information you’re expecting to get from a tuk-tuk driver?” It has very, very little to do with actually getting useful information that’s going to prevent this terrorist attack or further this particular criminal prosecution and I think that we need to unpack why torture happens. There’s actually a lot of diversity in why people use torture or use violence, whether or not they define it as torture, and I think unless we do that we’re not actually going to get any closer to preventing it, because we already have the assumption

Richard Ackland:        Yes. We’ve got the assumption, but one of my bugbears, and I know probably you don’t want to go too closely down this tonight, torture you could say was used as a deterrent to stop boats arriving in Australia. If you put people in inhumane conditions in God-forsaken places and subject them to mental and psychological and emotional and physical stress as a deterrent, I just wonder under the definitions, the formal definitions at least, it gets pretty close to torture?

Jorge Aroche:            If I can throw something in, because I think it’s important to look at torture as what it really is and Ignacio Martín-Baró coined the term some 20-something years ago, before he was killed in El Salvador, that torture is essentially a tool of social control. You basically torture people, which is a major violation of human rights, so you can frighten the rest of the population into continuing to accept minor violations of human rights which, in turn, are tied up to maintaining the privileges of different groups.

So in answer to this I think yes, definitely placing people in detention centres was introduced as a deterrent and it’s using the same strategy. It’s saying this is really bad and we want to put it in so that you take this pathway instead of the other pathway. Having worked in torture prevention for a long time, the other side of that argument is that we also need to be careful what we call torture because we could end up calling any violation of human rights torture. And the problem with that is that there are a lot of violations of human rights which are wrong because they’re violations of human rights. They don’t constitute the actually very clinical, thought-out, methodical approach that torture constitutes. But if we call everything torture then we have nothing to use as a label for those sorts of things which, like all the enhanced methods that we were talking about before and some of the very thought-out, intentional damaging of people that constitutes torture.

Mohamed Dukuly:      This is where I’m also going to bring in another person’s story. In the part of the world they come from there was a war between them, meaning the tribe he belonged to, and another tribe. So his military group, they caught the other people from the opposite tribe, six people. They cut their ears, cut their ears raw, cut their ears and put escorts on them, took them back to where the population was and chucked them into the group. The more they run into the population, the more everybody will run away because people couldn’t stand seeing the blood happening. They sent a message that, “This is what we’re going to do to you”. And one of these people survived and they’re here.

So when I was having a discussion with them, what he said to me is, “For another human being to be able to do that to me, they had to first of all dehumanise me. I have to be something not human to be able to do that to me. It was as ..?.. [27:09] and they took their cutlass, their big knife and they cut my ears”. And so he’s saying the reason why people did that, dehumanisation, is still happening in the part of the world they come from and their hope is that people in the developed world who want to advocate against torture should also incorporate the different violations of human rights, like the inequality in society. So I’ll stop there until another story comes.

Kiran Grewal:             That’s actually exactly the point that I wanted to make. The project I’m working on is interested in torture prevention and one of the reasons why we’ve steered clear of just talking about torture is because actually it’s the continuum of all of those little violations that make it possible in extreme situations to do those extreme acts. So it’s because it has become normalised that police will give a street kid a few slaps that then you can up the violence and up the violence and then, when this kid is associated with an insurgent movement, well, then you can do something more and more and more.

And also, one of the things that really bugs me, and I think bugs quite a lot of people at the moment looking at Sri Lanka, is it’s very easy for us to focus on the extreme cases of torture, the white van disappearances that are associated with the ethnic conflict. What nobody else is paying attention to is two teenage boys being beaten to the point where their internal organs fail because they stole a bunch of bananas. Those everyday cases are what make it possible for the white vans and for a government regime to sanction white vans.

Richard Ackland:        So it’s context?

Jorge Aroche:            Yes, and the other way around.

Kiran Grewal:             Yes.

Jorge Aroche:            Because that extreme of fear, the fact that people can be beaten and tortured and often led out minus their ears, minus their sanity, are the things that instil fear in the population that then enables people to accept the couple of slaps and all of the other violations of human rights that then keep a system that is uneven in place and in power.

Richard Ackland:        Kiran, are you saying that it’s really hard to address issues around prevention because there’s no clear understanding of what torture is or where the parameters are?

Kiran Grewal:             Well, I was thinking even before, when Ed was speaking about enhanced interrogation techniques and the agreement amongst lawyers, I would say yes, there may be agreement amongst lawyers, but there isn’t agreement amongst lots of other people about where that line is. And I would say that I have yet to actually – I mean, maybe they wouldn’t say it to me because I’m a human rights lawyer – but I haven’t yet come across a person who says, “Oh yeah, I think torture’s fine”. Everybody will start a conversation by saying, “Absolutely, torture is wrong” it’s just where they put particular acts on that spectrum and that’s, however much as lawyers we want to make it very clear and black and white, I actually don’t think – I mean, certainly waterboarding, fine. Nobody in Sri Lanka’s told me that they thought waterboarding was okay, but I think that there’s a lot of very blurry things on the spectrum and I’m not saying that we should accept that, but saying that actually for us to be able to prevent we need to first have the conversation and build consensus with people about why those things that they don’t necessarily see as torture are also wrong.

Richard Ackland:        Do you think that’s possible Jorge, to build that sort of consensus in very damaged and dysfunctional sort of societies?

Jorge Aroche:            I think it’s part of the process of society-building. I think it’s circular, because these things support each other in a sense. I don’t know whether it’s possible. I do hope it is, I mean, everything that we’re doing is trying to make that possible and certainly it’s heartening to see that in places, and Latin America is a very good example where torture used to be part of the system. Now, it still exists, but it’s basically very little. It doesn’t mean that there are still situations, for example, in countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, there’s no institutionalised torture as there was 20 years ago, or no, a lot more than that. But there are still terrible situations in jails, for example, that are gross violations of human rights. And the fact that torture is wrong and is probably at the extreme of what’s wrong in terms of violations of human rights, it doesn’t make other lesser violations right. And this is where the issue about the definition of torture comes in.

The other aspect of this, which is at the heart of this year’s International Day, is the issue of impunity, the issue of justice and the importance of making sure that justice prevails and that torture and those other violations of human rights are both acknowledged, but also prosecuted.

Richard Ackland:        One of the things we least expect out of all of this is that so-called civilised, advanced western societies also engage in torture. And we’re waiting for the release, probably in redacted form, of the American Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings about the CIA’s record of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and black hole prisons and so on. So it is amazing that very advanced, sophisticated societies indulge in this and maybe even including Australia which, of course, stood by and watched torture officially being conducted against detainees that had been sent to Egypt and then subsequently one of them sent to Guantanamo Bay.

So does that surprise, amaze you?

Edward Santow:         Yes and no. I think it’s a very good question, but it links to your previous question which was can we build consensus about a definition of torture and then insist on it? And I guess I would say there is already a consensus on the definition of torture. It’s not difficult. In abstraction, it’s actually relatively easy. The difficulty is on insisting on that definition in a practical, very messy, very difficult situation.

If you go through the halls of the UN in Geneva or New York, it’s relatively easy to reach agreement on what is permissible and not permissible, especially in armed conflict. It’s much harder when you’re actually in a conflict. What our work in relation to Australia’s military showed was that, in broad terms, Australia being part of a coalition with the United States in relation to the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan became very difficult because Australia came to the view that it took a different view, a different legal view on what was permissible in relation to the treatment of detainees than the US. And so what that led to was a whole range of really terrible outcomes. And just to name one, which our work was able to make public, Australia had a relatively senior military officer not just in Abu Ghraib, but actually in Cell Block 1a of Abu Ghraib, the most notorious part of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq at the worst period. He was then a Major, I’m happy to name him, George O’Kane. He was advising the US and the Australian militaries on “enhanced interrogation” techniques that were later found to be torture. He was party to keeping secret from the International Committee of the Red Cross certain detainees on Cell Block 1a. These were truly things that we would never say are part of the Australian ethos.

What happened was we, as a country, committed to a conflict, we committed to being part of an alliance in that conflict, but part of that alliance meant that we were struck with these very, very difficult moral, ethical and legal problems. And I would say – and this I just my personal view – that at times we didn’t live up to our values. And that is, I guess, one of the biggest challenges in war, as it is in almost any other part of our daily lives, to live up to our ethical principles and our legal principles when we’re truly under the greatest stress.

Richard Ackland:        So what happened to this military officer O’Kane? Was there any subsequent follow-up on him?

Edward Santow:         Yes, he was investigated and promoted. I’m serious.

Richard Ackland:        It’s interesting. There’s been a very big debate in America following the war in Iraq particularly about how this has affected traditional American values. The values of freedom and fairness and so on are all dramatically undermined by really tearing up the rule book on the law of war. So to some extent there’s been that discussion in America, but I suspect not so much here because maybe we weren’t so much part of it.

Edward Santow:         Yes, and we haven’t had the same level of formal investigation as to what took place as has taken place in the US and certainly in the UK. What I would concede is this, that at some level we, as humans, are willing to engage in a quite bizarre paradox and that is that some of the truly horrific forms of torture that Mohamed was talking about are considered to be completely unlawful. And yet, shooting someone on the battlefield in the head is lawful, in fact it could get you a whole series of medals and accolades and so on. I recognise that that is a very strange paradox that we are willing to accept and I guess when we think about it, we have to think about how did we get ourselves in that position?

And there were a series of conflicts that have occurred since humankind began, but particularly the Second World War and the true horrors of that conflict made us, as a civilisation, stop and think and to crystallise a number of the principles that many of us innately feel are very important in important legal documents, most particularly the Geneva Conventions. And those are not left-wing hippy documents at all; they are very much the bare minimum standards that combatants have to comply with if they’re going to engage in war.

Richard Ackland:        Yes. Mohamed, can you tell us a little bit more about your experiences with survivors?

Mohamed Dukuly:      Thank you for bringing me in. Ed, you mentioned something about how humanity can be really brave to engage in a certain level of paradox. One thing is acceptable here; another thing is unacceptable on the other hand. This brings me to another story of a woman here who is now 45, going to 50. She said the biggest challenge for her life now is how people will understand and appreciate the enormity of what happened to her without her struggling to tell them. I said, “What is that?” She said it was in 1991, they were caught together. Most of these stories are from civil wars around the west and central Africa areas. So I won’t name specific places, but they all come from there.

So they were caught in a civil war where they were suspected of being a supporter of the opposite group. And what they did, they were together – her, her eldest son, her husband and her sister and some other people. So they were together and they said, “Who is this?” “My son” “Who is this?” “My husband” and so on. So, “Okay, everybody come here, lay over there and your son is going to have you” and in the presence of everybody her son slept with her, in the presence of them. And then until they came, because of that shame, they divided. She came here, her husband went to Canada, her son is in America. Anytime she thinks of her son she thinks of the incident. Every time people go around in her community she thinks everyone knows her story. Everyone knows her story in terms of the story, but no-one knows about the pain she’s going through over what happened. So that’s her trouble.

So I said, “Okay, what would you like for people to do?” She said, “What I would like for people to do is at a human level as much as possible, before you think about the big picture advocacy, think about what can you do for victims of those things?” And she was lucky, she got engaged with a reputable organisation, STARTTS, she’s going through her therapy, she’s having counselling and she’s getting back into the community gradually. But how many people out there have gone through those things? There’s no opportunity to even tell their story and they’re living in pain every day of their lives. How many people will hear this story and won’t even understand the intensity or enormity of the pain she’s going through as a result of that?

So that’s the sort of human level she wants to appeal to the conscious of humanity. Think about it: what can you do for a victim while you’re thinking at the big picture level? That was the message that she wanted sent out tonight.

Richard Ackland:        We’ve got a few minutes before we come to questions from the gathering here, but I just want to ask Kiran first about torture prevention and what, in your view, in relation to that what works, what tends to work, and what tends not to work?

Kiran Grewal:             It’s very hard to speak straight after Mohamed’s incredibly powerful story.

Richard Ackland:        I know, terrible.

Kiran Grewal:             But to go back to what Ed was saying about the agreement at the abstract and then the tensions that emerge in the situation of conflict. One of the things that we absolutely know, unfortunately, doesn’t work is telling military or police officers, “You should not torture people, it’s against international law” because their response to that is either they already agree with that but they can manage to separate that from what they’re actually doing in their day-to-day work; or they think, “Well, it’s all very well, you have this luxury of talking in the abstract, we’re dealing with the real life”; or they say, “Fine, we shouldn’t do it. What should we do?”

And so what we’ve been trying to work on – and, look, there are no easy answers here – what we’ve been trying to think about is how do you give people the skills to do their job in a way that they feel that they’re doing their job properly while abiding by human rights principles? Because at the moment there’s still this tension that seems to emerge particularly, I mean, from the research that I’ve seen that actually suggests from militaries that seem to have a pretty good track record on this – bearing in mind that almost all militaries at some stage or another have been implicated. But the militaries that have the best systems tend to be the ones that don’t spend a lot of time lecturing on what people shouldn’t do and spend a lot of time developing the skills of what they should do, so they have very strong training.

Whereas what happens with, for example, a place like Nepal where you have a lot of foreign donors, you have a lot of UN intervention, human rights organisations, there are lots and lots of trainings done on torture prevention which are, “You should not torture. Torture is wrong. The Geneva Convention says this. The Convention Against Torture says this” but then they still walk out of the room saying, “Okay, but what should I have done in this particular situation?” And so what we’ve been trying to get them to think about, the officers that we’ve been working with is, “What are things that you currently do even in difficult situations that work, that mean you don’t resort to torture?”

And quite often it’s been really interesting that they do have strategies. If they don’t want to torture, they do have strategies for doing their job and still following human rights principles. And what we’re trying to do is get the guys who already have those at an individual level, get them to document them and actually use those as tools that then you teach to other people so that the ones who aren’t as creative as to think about “How could I do this differently?” that they can actually be trained to do it better and not to fall into that gap where they think, “Don’t know what else to do, I’ll beat him up”.

Richard Ackland:        You can approach this officially with government agencies and authorities and are they receptive to your approach on that retraining model?

Kiran Grewal:             Yes. Yes, they have been.

Richard Ackland:        That’s really encouraging.

Kiran Grewal:             They have been. I mean, I don’t want to sound completely Polyannaish that everybody’s really happy to have us come in there and do it and, of course, there’s a certain amount of lip service that gets paid. But it’s been really interesting that when we’ve tried out doing a session with armed forces guys on torture prevention that hasn’t been around international law, that’s actually been starting talking about their values and what do they think is important and what do they think is difficult about their jobs and, in a practical situation, how have they dealt with that, it’s amazing the things that come out of them, the creative solutions. I also end up in crazy situations where I have guys saying to me, “So if I’m in this situation and the enemy is there and blah, blah, blah” and then they’re asking me for practical advice and I have to say to them, “I’ve never actually been in a battle so I wouldn’t know what you’d do in that situation”. But at least you can actually think.

Richard Ackland:        So this is Sri Lanka?

Kiran Grewal:             And Nepal, yes, but you can actually see that if you move away from just doing the talk about international law – and that’s not to take away the value of it and not to say that there is no place for it, but if you’re actually going in there and talking to these guys and you really want them to do things differently, just lecturing them on the Convention is not going to actually get there.

Richard Ackland:        And is it different? I mean, these are government organisations. I just wonder if it’s different in the sort of situation where there are non-government outfits that are torturing? It seems to me a very different situation when governments sanction torture because you may be able to change that over time, but when it’s non-government sanctioned torture it’s a very different situation.

Jorge, have you got a few words before we go to questions?

Jorge Aroche:            Well, this last thing that you threw into the conversation is a very important one because we are having more and more torture at the hands of non-actors, basically powers that are not in actual government. And that happens both within organised crime, for example in Mexico there are horrific things happening, particularly in the north of Mexico in the context of drug cartels and so on. We have situations in the context of civil war where the government is using torture, but also the other side. I suppose we’ve got a lot more access to government, even though that is very restricted. And what makes this – and Mohamed touched on it earlier – is that cyclical nature. That by governments condoning torture, they’re also making it possible for the non-governments to also use torture and they also use torture if they become governments. And we can see this spiral in a whole lot of places.

I suppose the last thing in terms of prevention is that in order to torture somebody, the process that happens is a dehumanisation of the person and a polarisation. So basically, the person that’s being tortured is from another world, they’re different and they’re the enemy and they’re an object of terror, and therefore you can torture them. Therefore in terms of working against torture, I completely agree with Kiran, you need to give people the skills, but also work with the elements that enable them to give the people that are torturing something else and attack that in order to, I suppose, bring other strategies into place. And punishment still has a place in that context. Torture should be punished. It is a crime and it should be punishable both by domestic and international law, and that plays a very important role on the other side of the equation, because for people who have been victims of torture, that have survived torture, bringing in the element of justice is so crucial to their healing.

Richard Ackland:        Okay, thank you everyone for the discussion. So we’ll throw it open to everyone here to see if they would like to fire some questions at the panel.

Audience:                  I’d just like to ask a question generally. I just wanted to know the impact for the torturer? We’ve talked a lot about the experience of the victim, but there would be psychological impacts for the torturer as well and how that would help with prevention, addressing that impact?

Richard Ackland:        Yes, it’s a good question.

Jorge Aroche:            There’s actually not that much research that’s been done on this subject, presumably because torturers don’t like to participate in research studies and confess that. However, a friend of mine, a psychiatrist in Uruguay that was working with the Torture & Trauma Service there but was also part of the general mental health system, did prepare a study based on a small sample group of about 20 people that he saw in the context of his psychiatric practice within the public health system who came because they had been tortured. And what he found is basically they tended to fall into two groups, one group that presented mostly with depressive-type symptoms and another one that presented mostly with paranoid-type symptoms.

The depressive group seemed to be associated with the people that had been forced into torture. If you unpack how torture happens in a regime, there are people that participate in it because they really believe in the ideas, however wrong they may be, but they’re doing it because they really believe in an ideology. Those people tended to present with more the paranoid-type, were highly anxious and paranoid. The group that had been forced into torture, which is the other thing that happens, many of the people that engage in torture do it because if they don’t do it they may be tortured themselves. They’re part of a structure that’s geared around protecting the people that do the torture and making sure that nothing leaks out of that system. And those were the people who tended to present mostly with depressive symptoms and suicide attempts and so on.

Audience:                  I just wonder on this definition of torture and how we’re relating it to state and non-state actors. The person who stands up against torture or tortures at work as a military officer, surely there is some link to domestic-based violence and the violence that happens in the society piece? Are we siloing it to the extent that we can talk about torture because it’s containable, but where does that stop and from the violence in society as well and what’s condoned? I can’t get a handle on that.

Kiran Grewal:             That’s a really good question, and actually it sort of links a little bit to your question as well. One of the other things that we’ve found in a lot of the torture prevention training is, so for example I’ve sat in numerous workshops with army officers in Sri Lanka where they’re lectured on, “This is the definition of torture, blah, blah, blah”. And then I’ve heard, either people from the audience or even, on occasion, the resource person, the lecturer who’s giving them the lecture on the Convention Against Torture, talk about corporal punishment in schools. And in one session the lecturer had just gone through the definition of torture and how if you slap someone in your custody that is torture, and then went on this little rant about how his teachers in school used to give him a good hiding and that’s what made him the person that he was.

And so you can just see there’s this complete contradiction then, and actually there have been a few studies done in different settings where you actually have prison officers or police officers saying, “No wait a minute, I smack my kid at home to make them a better person and I love this kid, and yet you’re telling me that smacking this drug addict, who’s a criminal, who has bullied all these people, is a bad thing”. There’s a real disconnect there and that’s where getting stuck in terminology and definitions I think we lose something. We need to have that debate on the continuance of violence, why all of those things are bad, and also relating that to your question.

Two things from the studies that I’ve looked at on torturers, one is there have been a couple of studies done of Greek torturers under the military Junta, and there’s also been studies of people who were involved in the Brazilian death squads. And in both of those cases, what they found was that the guys who committed really horrendous acts of violence were themselves, through their training, subjected to many of those very same practices of violence. And I read those going into the research we were doing in Nepal and Sri Lanka and we found the same thing, that these guys have quite often been subjected to many of the same dehumanisation processes so that their sensitivity to violence is completely different to my sensitivity, having never been exposed to that kind of violence. And then the fallout from that is, of course, they take that back into their homes.

So there’s an organisation in Sri Lanka that does a lot of work on the rehabilitation of trauma survivors and they were saying they get incredible numbers of either military personnel or family members of military personnel contacting them. They can’t deal with them because the government won’t recognise it, but there are incredible levels of trauma that are being experienced at the level of the individual officers, but also then that feeds back into domestic conflict.

Richard Ackland:        So can I just ask you quickly, is this work that you’re doing in Nepal and Sri Lanka, is this the work that you’re doing for the European Union? Are they funding this or is there some other organisation?

Kiran Grewal:             I’m not going to answer that question directly. Yes, so it’s a partnership between the University of Sydney, Colombo University and Kathmandu School of Law. So it’s done through university, and I won’t say any more than that.

Richard Ackland:        I just was curious, because I just heard that the European Union may have been involved and I wondered why are they? Maybe it’s their old imperial, colonial legacy or something, but anyway.

Kiran Grewal:             Quite possibly. But I will say that increasingly donor organisations are recognising that they need to be a little bit smarter. That if you’re going to engage in places which are coming out of conflict or regimes that have committed atrocities, it’s not going to be an instant fix of regime change, do a couple of sessions on human rights and everything’s going to be fine; that this is a process of long term engagement to transform the systems. That’s all I’ll say.

Audience:                  Just in regards to teaching would-be torturers alternative tactics that would help them do their jobs better, but in the cases where torture is a form of social control or to instil in the population, what would you recommend?

Kiran Grewal:             I knew somebody was going to pull me up on that, that’s a very good question. That’s a very good question and that’s definitely where we get stuck, that you take on in good faith the argument that’s put forward of “Well, the reason we do this…” You know, police officers say, “The reason that we beat people is because we don’t have any other skills to conduct interrogations or do investigations”. At the same time that’s where, Jorge, your point about addressing the dehumanisation side of it and the broader social issues comes in. That yes, you can give them skills, but in a society where street kids or people from lower castes or particular ethnic groups are considered completely expendable, even if people have other skills they’re not going to bother to use them; you also need to change their attitudes about the value of that person.

And one of the things that’s really difficult in lots of places is so much of human rights is based on an idea of the inherent equality and dignity of every human being, but we’re going into plenty of societies that don’t actually believe that. So, for example, with torture prevention, you know, people will say, “Yes, torture is wrong because it’s against the dignity of people”. But I’ve been in a workshop where the army officers said, “Well, obviously Dr Kiran couldn’t be tortured because she’s very dignified and that would be terrible, but a village woman, she doesn’t have any dignity anyway so what difference does it make?”

So that kind of level of value change and attitude change also needs to go alongside the skills training, and obviously regime change, but we’re not really in a position to achieve that.

Richard Ackland:        Yes, it’s sort of blowing into the wind.

Audience:                  I would like to point out about systematic torture. There exists a torture coming from the anger between one group and another, but there also exists another one which is systematic torture. People are educated and trained to torture others. That’s what I’m talking about, the ones that are used in military coups or regime changes, and that happens around the world. To prevent such things it seems to be extremely hard and it seems to me there’s a need to say sorry. These people need to be punished, need to be found out, and need to say sorry to the people who have been tortured. I just would like to get your opinions on this.

Jorge Aroche:            Absolutely. I was saying before that without punishment, without justice, torture continues to happen because the message is yes, you do the most horrible things that you can do to other people and then you can just say sorry. This was the problem, for example, with the Truth & Reconciliation Program in South Africa which actually, in many cases, damaged the survivors because being forced to attend a court hearing where you hear in minute detail everything that a torturer did to your family, to people who later died or had their life destroyed, and basically then saying, “Sorry”. All it does is bring it all up and leaves you even more powerless than before and therefore can be quite destructive. At the same time, it’s better than not going through that process at all, I suppose, to some extent.

Coming back to the original question that we’re discussing, the root of torture and all the other violations of human rights is extreme inequality. So, whenever we try to build a better society or a society where inequality is not so extreme also addresses that, because the more extreme the inequality the harsher the message that the people that are at the top need to exert to keep that privilege. And in a sense, if you look at a better world without torture basically we will achieve that when you achieve that other end, because there are other human rights. People have a right to food, a right to education. There are a whole lot of other rights that are also being violated in the situations where torture exists and the rights to security and safety and so on are being violated.

Mohamed Dukuly:      I just want to add another voice from another person. This is not me saying this; it’s someone else saying this. He said, the reason why torture is happening especially in the part of the world we come from relates to the idea of ongoing injustices that are happening, the imperialist legacy that happens in those countries. Because they saw during the civil war, for example, in Liberia what the torturers were doing to citizens and exactly what they went through when imperialists settled in the country. And it goes round in every country in that way. So what that person’s argument is is that, for example, in the case of what is happening in Nigeria, to put a stop to such stupidity they should come back to re-address some of the ugly things that happened in the way the country was partitioned. To him, that can set the place for healing for some of these people. That’s him saying it, not me, okay?

Richard Ackland:        I think Ed may know a bit more about this, but I thought that in the United States there’d be no prosecution of CIA torturers or private contractors who have tortured. None. The only ones that have been prosecuted I think were, there was one that was in Italy, there were proceedings against a CIA officer in Italy as a result of torture that he’d done in a prison to someone who had been rendered to Italy. So that was the current administration waived the criminal proceedings against any CIA officers in order not to offend the CIA.

Audience:                  I just had a question in regards to the Torture Prevention Project. Is there a program to empower the onlookers that witness incidents of torture? So you have the perpetrators who have the education who are going through this program, but is there one to empower those that witness it and for them to come forward and report these incidents?

Kiran Grewal:             Yes, that’s a really great question because often we just talk in terms of the perpetrator and the victim, and all of the research shows that actually there’s a really important third group there. Human rights organisations have tried to build that space by, for example, doing things like monitoring of detention centres, but also your point is probably even more important and it’s about well, actually, the people inside the organisation, what can they do?

We’ve been trying to work, again, with individual mid-level officers to look at tools that they can develop for that reason exactly. So, for example, the Victorian Police developed a little booklet called Words That Work which was a booklet that was aimed at your average police officer in Victoria. If you’re faced with a situation where you see a colleague doing something illegal or engaging in corruption or whatever, what are ways in which you might be able to strategically intervene? Because obviously these organisations, they quite often run on the basis that I can trust that you’ve got my back. So there’s no incentive at all for people to speak out and, in fact, every pressure on them to keep quiet.

So, for example, we used that booklet and we’ve adapted it and actually translated into Sinhala to give to Sri Lankan police and we’re trialling that at the moment to see whether or not they find it useful and ways in which we can tweak it more and we’ll also try something similar in Nepal. But obviously things like whistle-blower protection would be another way in which you could enhance the possibility of bystanders coming forward. Unfortunately at the moment there is no protection at all for whistle-blowers in either of the countries we’re working.

The psychological studies that have been done of, for example, there’s an Israeli psychological study that was done of two units that had engaged in quite severe human rights violations and what they found was there’s a sort of bell curve of people. There are the sadists on one side, who you can’t do anything about, and then there are the really good people, who will be completely unswayed by anything, and then there are all of the others in the middle. So using that research we’ve been trying to think about we’re not going to be able to deal with the ones who are absolutely determined to use violence. We may not even be able to deal with the guys who are easily swayed towards violence. What we’re trying to target are the people who will be led by whatever the culture is of that particular unit. And so connected with that we’ve been thinking very much of the immediate command structure.

So the advice that we got from military people particularly, but also from police, is it’s really that the culture is set by that guy who is actually in charge of this group of people. It’s not by the senior officer, it’s not by someone sitting in headquarters; it’s by the guy who’s in charge of the particular unit or the officer in charge of a particular police station. And so our intervention has been very much at that level, trying to work with them to set them up to actually set the standard. But it’s still not a very concrete answer, I have to say.

Richard Ackland:        It’s interesting that in the armed services it seems to be the absolute ingrained culture that it was perfectly acceptable to sexually assault people or each other or new recruits or whatever, until it became a real spotlight of the media. And then eventually the most senior officer in the army, the head of the army, stood up and said something about it; that it wouldn’t be allowed on his watch. So whether that sort of intervention at the most senior level can lead to a cultural change will be interesting to see.

Audience:                  My question is, since you are talking about policemen and the army, what about the militia? In different countries there are militias who are also torturing the population. What can we do about that? I know prevention is the key in different areas like HIV and corruption, prevention is the key but also the most difficult. What do you think about some people who used to be in the army or the police then afterwards they resign and become saved? There are even some who become pastors, ministers. What do you think about that?

Mohamed Dukuly:      I’d just like to say something about what we come across in our groups from what the participants tell us is that one of the challenges to their survival or healing process is that whole thing about impunity, where people who tortured them either become government officials in their government or they go and confess somewhere and become pastors or someone in this industry working with nothing happening to them. They are so powerless they can’t do anything to the perpetrator. Seeing that injustice becomes more painful to them than the actual torture. So that’s what we hear from them. I’m just saying this to reinforce your question. So the question to you, the lawyer and the academic, you can answer it.

Richard Ackland:        I don’t know if anyone else wants to grapple with that?

Audience:                  Just picking up on that last comment from Mohamed, I was going to say that I think one of the topics for tonight is how do we prevent it? It seems like we haven’t really addressed what the Australian government and what here, in this country today, we might do. It seems to me that if you look at Sri Lanka, I think the work you’re doing Kiran sounds fantastic, but surely there is a role here for government to stand up? Some Commonwealth leaders elected not to attend the Commonwealth Summit, even David Cameron elected, having toured the country, to make his feelings. Isn’t that actually quite important?

There’s room for the care and rehabilitation; there’s room for the kind of retraining; but surely, in the same way that we’ve seen attitudes change to a number of things, we actually do have to hold the government to account, we do have to ask our member of parliament? We saw it with children in detention centres. It happened MP by MP, backbencher by backbencher. It was changed. Don’t we actually have to ask, in a polite and persuasive way, the government to be fairly clear about this? Because the law is clear and I think our society is clear about it.

Richard Ackland:        Good question.

Edward Santow:         We know that in a situation of impunity you have truly horrific things that perpetuate and metastasise and get worse and worse. I think Kiran and Jorge are absolutely right in identifying that there are multiple ways in which you need to tackle really difficulty issues, particularly in relation to torture. But I’ve got to say that to allow a situation of impunity to perpetuate is the most sure-fire way of ensuring that that situation gets worse and worse.

It’s a terrible irony. If any of us went outside down to Broadway now and committed an assault or, God forbid, a murder, there’s a very, very high probability that we would eventually be arrested and charged and brought to justice. However, if you committed 1,000 assaults or 1,00 murders or 10,000 assaults or 10,000 murders, the chances are – I’m just talking statistically – the chances are you’ll get away with it and you may still be the President of whatever country you come from.

Now, that’s a situation that applies in Sri Lanka, it applies in many other countries, but it’s allowed to continue to apply when the international community, through a combination of embarrassment, I guess fairly base geo-political and geo-economic concerns, decide not to stand up to regimes that carry out this sort of behaviour. What we saw in March at the UN in Geneva was the international community, by a very, very, very small margin, saying in relation to Sri Lanka, what took place particularly in 2008/9 does constitute war crimes we think and so there’s been a formal investigation that the High Commission of Human Rights is now undertaking. I think that’s a positive step but gosh, when you look at the international community, they were supremely divided on that and that I’ve got to say is pretty disappointing.

Kiran Grewal:             Can I just say also, one thing in terms of what governments can do, last year there were a number of situations where senior Nepali military officers were either supposed to go on UN peace-keeping missions, doing international training, doing nice junkets overseas, and they had their visas refused, they weren’t allowed to go, funding was withdrawn. And that I have to say has sent some real shockwaves through the senior ranks in Nepal that there has been a complete reluctance at the senior levels of government and, obviously, the forces to do anything about the violations that everybody recognises were permitted during the war. No amount of international censuring makes a difference, but where it did start to hurt them was when they actually saw their own career progression and their own nice trips overseas being impacted.

So that’s definitely something that we, as people who live in a country that people are trying to get visas to come to, can do. Let’s actually start refusing the visas of the people who shouldn’t be coming to our country and start giving visas to people who maybe we should be looking after.

Richard Ackland:        Yes.

Audience:                  I think this follows the visa comment quite nicely. Just following on from Richard’s question, I’d like to put it to the lawyers on the panel about the situations, particularly on Nauru and Manus Island, and whether you feel that that it constitutes torture? I think there are a lot of parallels being drawn in dehumanising of people and normalising violence and turning a blind eye and various things like that, and I wonder what the answer is? Can we up-skill Tony Abbott to think creatively? I don’t know, but it’s a pretty sad state of affairs at the moment.

Richard Ackland:        Yes, it’s a good question. Ed?

Edward Santow:         I certainly can’t give you an organisational answer – the organisation hasn’t visited Manus or Nauru – and all I can really do is shed my lawyerly skin for a moment and just say as a human – and there is a human underneath the lawyer – what we see on Four Corners and on the news more generally about what’s happening in Nauru and Manus is incredibly worrying. And there are certainly elements of it that do seem to look a lot like torture and do seem to have a systemised aspect to it. But I also need to be methodical in my approach and say we haven’t studied it carefully and so we just don’t know. And that’s part of the problem. There’s very little easily accessible hard data coming out of Manus and Nauru and that makes it much harder for civil society and the ordinary citizenry, including myself, to know precisely what’s taking place.

Richard Ackland:        I’d like to thank the panel very much. Ed for his forensic legal insights; Mohamed for his graphic and disturbing accounts; Kiran for her wonderful outline of what she’s been working on in very dangerous and tricky situations; and Jorge for his work in restoring, rehabilitating and trying to put people back together and his perspective on the global stage. Would you thank the panel? And also thanks to Amnesty and STARTTS for putting on the evening.

Ming Yu:                    Thanks Richard. It’s always a pleasure to be working with Richard as well. Thank you to you all for your questions and I’ll just take two quick minutes to wrap up the evening.

So as you can hear from tonight’s panel discussion, it’s very much a two steps forward, one step back situation when it comes to government and torture. And certainly, despite having six decades of improved international and national legislation, there are still many governments of the 155 who’ve signed the Convention Against Torture, many of these governments are two-faced. They are signing the Convention, and yet they commit torture and they lie about it.

Now, in the audience tonight we have lawyers, doctors, psychologists, human rights advocates, a range of medical professionals and also, of course, survivors of torture and their family. And it’s exactly people like yourselves that can turn this tide against government torture and torture by other parties as well. So on leaving tonight I do invite you to either find out more about the panellists’ research and their work; invite you to support STARTTS by being a volunteer or a donor; and also to join Amnesty’s new global campaign to stop torture. There’s more information at the back of both STARTTS and Amnesty.

If I could ask you again to put your hands together for Richard and all the panellists, and please stay for a little bit longer to chat, there’s plenty of food – please help us eat all the food – grab another drink and thank you again for coming.

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