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Template:Infobox NPO The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), is an independent, international health professional organisation that promotes and supports the rehabilitation of torture victims and works for the prevention of torture worldwide.

Based in Denmark, the IRCT is the umbrella organisation for more than 140 independent torture rehabilitation organisations in over 70 countries who treat and assist torture survivors and their families. The IRCT seeks to strengthen the capacity of these centres and programmes through training and technical assistance. By rendering these organisations' work visible to the international community of health professionals, international organisations, donors and the general public, the IRCT facilitates collaboration in the field and contributes to development towards a world without torture.

Professionals at the IRCT rehabilitation centres and programmes provide treatment for an estimated 100,000 survivors of torture every year. Victims receive multidisciplinary support including medical and psychological care and legal aid. The aim of the rehabilitation process is to empower torture survivors to resume as full a life as possible.


The medical response to the problem of torture began in 1973 with the launch of a campaign by Amnesty International (AI) to help and diagnose torture victims. At this time, very little was known about torture methods or the physical or psychosocial consequences for torture victims[1] [2].

The first AI group to start this work was founded in Denmark in 1974 and consisted of four voluntary doctors. This group was part of a network of some 4,000 medical doctors from 34 countries worldwide.

It quickly became evident that, in addition to documenting cases of torture for use in potential legal proceedings, it was also critical to identify methods to help treat and rehabilitate victims of torture.

This resulted in the establishment in 1978 of the first medical international working group to address the rehabilitation of torture victims, which held the first international medical seminar on torture, Violations of Human Rights - Torture and the Medical Profession, in Athens, Greece.

In 1979, members of the Danish medical group obtained permission to admit and examine torture victims at Copenhagen University Hospital, in Denmark. Three years later, in 1982, the Rehabilitation and Research Centre for Torture Victims (RCT) was founded in Copenhagen by Dr. Inge Genefke, MD, as an independent institution with its own premises[3].

In response to a growing need for global support and assistance in the rehabilitation of torture victims, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims was founded in 1985, initially as the international arm of the RCT, and, from 1997, as an international and independent organisation[4].

In 2010, the IRCT will be celebrating its 25th anniversary.


File:26june2010 WWTposter.pdf

The World Without Torture poster used by the IRCT in the 26June 2010 campaign

The work of the IRCT can be divided into three areas:

  • Offering rehabilitation services to torture survivors
  • Countering impunity for perpetrators and promoting justice for survivors
  • Raising awareness among policy-makers and citizens

The stated vision of the IRCT is "a world that values and accepts shared responsibility for the eradication of torture"[5]. The objective of the organization is to promote the provision of specialized treatment and rehabilitation services for victims of torture and to contribute to the prevention of torture globally. To further these goals, the IRCT seeks on an international basis:

- to develop and maintain an advocacy programme that accumulates, processes and disseminates information about torture as well as the consequences and the rehabilitation of torture
- to establish international funding for rehabilitation services and programmes for the prevention of torture
- to promote the education and training of relevant professionals in the medical as well as social, legal and ethical aspects of torture
- to encourage the establishment and maintenance of rehabilitation services
- to establish and expand institutional relations in the international effort to abolish the practice of torture, and
- to support all other activities that may contribute to the prevention of torture.

The IRCT has special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Department of Public Information, and participatory status with the Council of Europe.

Important collaboration partners include (but are not limited to) the World Medical Association (WMA), the World Confederation of Physical Therapy (WCPT), the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), the International Council of Nurses (ICN), and Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

The IRCT also works in partnership with governments, human rights organisations, health professional organisations and intergovernmental organisations.


  • TORTURE journal, a journal on rehabilitation of torture victims and prevention of torture.


The IRCT comprises four bodies: the General Assembly, the Council, the Executive Committee, and the General Secretariat.

General Assembly

The IRCT General Assembly is to meet every three years and comprises accredited rehabilitation centres and programmes worldwide. The General Assembly provides a forum in which representatives of rehabilitation centres and programmes, and others working in related fields, may facilitate and press forward the global work against torture.

The first IRCT General Assembly was conducted as a Written General Assembly on 16 June - 6 July 2003. All rehabilitation centres and programmes which are accredited with the IRCT were eligible to participate in the General Assembly, the forum in which the IRCT Council is elected.

A total of 94 accredited rehabilitation centres and programmes participated in the 2003 IRCT Written General Assembly.

Council and Executive Committee

According to the IRCT Statutes and Bylaws, the IRCT Council is elected by the General Assembly and comprises up to 30 members, 27 representing rehabilitation centres and programmes worldwide, and three independent experts. The Council is the principal policy making and advisory standard-setting body of the IRCT, and includes the seven members of the Executive Committee.

The allocation of seats to the IRCT Council by region is as follows:

  • Europe – 7 seats
  • Asia – 4 seats
  • North America – 2 seats
  • Latin America – 4 seats
  • Sub Sahara Africa – 4 seats
  • Middle East and North Africa – 3 seats
  • Pacific – 2 seats
  • Independent experts – 3 seats
  • Country of domicile of the IRCT General Secretariat (Denmark) – 1 seat.

General Secretariat

The General Secretariat, based in Copenhagen, Denmark, is the operational body of the IRCT, responsible for the management and implementation of the IRCT's policies and programmes in support of the rehabilitation of torture victims and the prevention of torture worldwide.

The General Secretariat consists of the Office of the Secretary-General, Administration and Finance Unit, Communications Unit, Programme Unit, and the Brussels Liaison Office.

See also


Further reading

External links

da:Internationale Rehabiliterings- og Forskningscenter for Torturofre

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