New Plans To Detect Torture Announced

Plans to develop a universal training manual to help doctors and lawyers around the world detect evidence of torture were announced today by the World Medical Association.

In a new collaborative project with the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT), the WMA is to develop a module, including a torture detection format, in a move to bring about the global prevention of torture.

Today's announcement at the WMA's Council meeting in Divonne-les-Bains, France, follows last year's approval by the European Commission of the first set of international guidelines for documenting torture and its consequences, known as the Istanbul Protocol.

Five countries have now been chosen to put these guidelines into practice: Georgia, Mexico, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Uganda. They will each develop a generic training format, methodology and material, for 250 health and 125 legal professionals who, in turn, will train future trainers. Once this module is developed, it will be adapted to the specific national circumstances and needs of different countries and groups and will become a framework for the universal implementation of the Istanbul Protocol

The new project will be co-ordinated by the WMA and the IRCT, together with Physicians for Human Rights USA (PHR-USA) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.

Dr Delon Human, Secretary General of the WMA, said: "Torture is a scourge on the world. Health care professionals must use their privileged position to act on behalf of the world's countless victims".

"We want to see this training module and torture detection format developed in collaboration with experts from all over the world".

"We hope that the first draft of the module will be prepared and sent to all contributors within the next few weeks. It will then be adapted for the five pilot countries."

Note to Editors:
The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the "Istanbul Protocol") is the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences. It became a United Nations official document in 1999. The Istanbul Protocol is intended to serve as a set of international guidelines for the assessment of persons who allege torture and ill treatment, for investigating cases of alleged torture, and for reporting such findings to the judiciary and any other investigative body.