Programme

Hope and Memory: Identification and Certification of Victims of Torture

According to statistics from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the percentage of victims of torture in refugee flows, ranges from 5-20%. In Greece, a significant portion of the people that are being identified as victims of torture, come from countries such as Syria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran and Cameroon, among others. However, even though this group is extremely vulnerable, they are not being identified in time, due to the fact that the identification process and,  all the more, the certification process requires specialized knowledge.

The programme “Hope and Memory: Identification and Certification of Victims of Torture” has as its main goal the strengthening of the protection of victims of torture through three complementary activities: a) the certification of victims of torture, b) the training of relevant actors, and c) awareness-raising, information, and advocacy.

Since September of 2011, METAdrasi is covering the great need regarding the identification and certification of victims of torture, implementing a programme supported by an interdisciplinary team, bridging the gap created by the suspension of activities of the Medical Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims (MRCT) in 2008. An interdisciplinary team consisting of social workers, doctors, psychologists, and lawyers (many of whom are former members of MRCT, with over 30 years of experience in the field) examine all cases referred to the programme.

A) CERTIFICATION OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

METAdrasi is the only organization receiving, since 2013, official referrals from the Asylum Service and the Reception and Identification Service, for its specialised team to certify victims of torture.

The whole certification procedure is based on the “Istanbul Protocol”, a set of international guidelines on the effective investigation and documentation of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The steps followed in this process include:

  • Receipt of the completed referral form (attached for reference)
  • Preliminary interview conducted by a social worker. During the interview the social history of the applicant is recorded with references into other aspects of his/her life (marital status, education, political involvement, occupation, etc)
  • Clinical examination and assessment by a specialised doctor. During this process, they check  the compatibility between the info from the medical history and the actual findings  of the applicant’s claims of physical torture
  • Interview with the team’s psychologist, where the applicant’s current psychological state is recorded alongside their need for further psychological support (before and after the torture)and the psychological consequences deriving by the tortures.
  • Interview conducted by a specialised lawyer. They reference the findings from previous interviews and investigate the compatibility of findings with the prevailing social/political conditions in the applicant’s country of origin during the alleged events.

Up to April 2021, 1,517 individuals have benefited from this programme.

All interviews are conducted with the assistance of a trained interpreter, unless the beneficiaries can communicate directly with the experts in English or French.

Each specialist then conducts a final review of the findings and assesses the likelihood of the individual having been tortured, according to the scale provided by the Istanbul Protocol. The interdisciplinary team then meets, examining each case seperately and making the final decision on the certification of the individual.

Then, the relevant certificate is issued and received in-person by the applicant, after its contents have been explained  in detail. In tandem, the applicant is referred to other specialised actors for further support.

In accordance with international law, only the applicant can decide whether or not to use the certificate in order to support their asylum application. For asylum seekers, who represent the majority of certified persons, the certificate is legal evidence for their asylum cases.

Β) TRAINING OF INSTITUTIONS AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS

Another particularly important action of the programme, for which there is a great need, is the training of employees of involved services, so that the most evident cases of torture are recognized immediately, and only the most difficult cases are referred to METAdrasi for investigation.

C) AWARENESS AND ADVOCACY

The programme’s third pillar contains activities of information and advocacy, with the goal to highlight and raise awareness about this particularly vulnerable group, both in those directly involved, and in the general public, as well as to exercise pressure for the creation of a suitable framework. In addition, efforts are being made to make targeted changes to legislation concerning victims of torture and their rights.

The programme “Hope and Memory: Identification and Certification of Victims of Torture” is implemented in the framework of the programme “Active Citizens Fund”, by METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development.

The Active citizens fund in Greece is supported through a € 12m grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway as part of the EEA Grants 2014 – 2021. The programme aims to develop the sustainability and capacity of the civil society sector in Greece, and to strengthen its role in promoting and safeguarding democratic procedures, active citizenship and human rights. The Fund Operator for the Active citizens fund in Greece is Bodossaki Foundation in consortium with SolidarityNow.

More information: www.activecitizensfund.gr/en/

The activity was formerly supported by the UNHCR, the Directorate-General’s Civil Protection & Humanitarian Aid Operations Department (DG-ECHO), the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, and Foundation ProVictimis.

More information:

Email: vot@metadrasi.org
Tel.: +30 214 100 8700, internal line 337
4, 25 Martiou Street, 17778 Tavros, (2nd floor) – Metro “Kallithea” or “Tavros” Stations
Office hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00-17:00


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