Even when the most brutal forms of torture are employed, torture victims very rarely have access to external evidence which can corroborate their claims; and when the complainant’s word is weighed against that of the interrogator, past experience shows that the interrogator wins the authorities’ trust in the vast majority of cases. The Medico-Legal Documentation Project seeks to cut through this Gordian Knot: to make available objective external documentation of the torture.
The “Istanbul Protocol” adopted by the UN and recognized by medical and legal systems around the world offers physicians, psychologists, attorneys and investigators clear tools and measures to evaluate an individual’s claims of torture, whether the alleged abuse occurred in recent months or many years ago.
Since 2012 we have run a series of trainings on this subject for groups of medical professionals from various fields. At these trainings, volunteers are instructed by international experts (e.g. working with the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) or with the Turkish Human Right Foundation) experienced in forensic and medico-legal documentation of torture. Trained legal and health professionals then work together to carry out medico-legal evaluations and write expert opinions as part of complaints, appeals or petitions, in accordance with the Protocol. These expert opinions have served and continue to advance pursuit of the victims’ claims in various legal proceedings.