The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) welcomes the adoption of the UN Committee Against Torture’s General Comment on Article 14 of the Convention Against Torture. This is an important step forward in ensuring that torture victims receive adequate redress and reparations including rehabilitation services.
Miriam Reventlow, Head of Legal and Advocacy for the IRCT, says, “For too long, States have ignored their obligation to provide rehabilitation services to torture victims and left it to NGOs to deliver these crucial services. This General Comment not only makes clear that providing rehabilitation services is a clear obligation of States regardless of available resources, it also provides a very valuable contribution to determining what these services must contain and when and by whom should provide them.”
The General Comment clarifies a number of issues about victims’ right to rehabilitation under the Convention Against Torture.
1. It stipulates that rehabilitation services “should be holistic and include medical and psychological care as well as legal and social services” and further explains that rehabilitation services have to achieve as full rehabilitation as possible without regard to the resources available in the perpetrating State.
2. It establishes that “each State party should adopt a long-term and integrated approach and ensure that specialised services for the victim of torture or ill-treatment are available, appropriate and promptly accessible.”
3. It provides that services must be provided at the earliest possible point in time and that this must not depend on the victim pursuing judicial remedies.
4. Lastly, it establishes that rehabilitation services can either be delivered by State institutions or through funding of non-State services providers and the victim participation in the selection of service provider is essential.
The IRCT is very pleased that the General Comment makes a strong and detailed contribution to the obligation of States to provide rehabilitation services. The IRCT looks forward to working with our members and, where relevant, Government agencies to make this right a reality for all torture victims.
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