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Seeking Justice for Torture: a Victim-Centred Approach

Every year, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture supports 50,000 victims of torture on average, by awarding assistance to projects in over 80 countries. Established in 1981 by the General Assembly, the UNVFVT provides direct assistance (psycho-social, legal and medical services) to victims and their families, through partnerships with civil society, including grassroots organizations, rehabilitation centres, public interest law firms and other groups.

Along with the financial support provided to victims of torture, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT) convenes annual thematic workshops for victims, human rights defenders and practitioners assisted by the Fund to share best practices and develop effective responses to the most pressing challenges confronting torture survivors today. These gatherings also serve as a platform to display the concrete impact of the Fund’s work, bringing forward voices and testimonies from the ground.

In April 2018, the UNVFVT convened in Geneva a two-day workshop on “Seeking Justice for Torture: a Victim-Centred Approach”. Before the workshop, on 11 April 2018, the Board of the Fund hosted a high-level public panel on the same subject. In the context of the commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the panellists shared views and experiences in the field of redress for victims of torture since the affirmation of the legal principle of the absolute prohibition of torture. Civil society representatives also shared poignant testimonies on the difference made by the UNVFVT for their programmes aimed at seeking justice for victims and their families.

The event was opened by UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Kate Gilmore, followed by statements from Ms. Estela de Carlotto, the emblematic leader of the grandmothers of the disappeared of Argentina, and Mr. Hassan Bility, the trailblazing journalist and survivor of atrocities during the Liberian Civil War. The Permanent Representative of Denmark, Ambassador Carsten Staur, the Chairperson of the Committee against Torture, Mr. Jens Modvig and the Director of REDRESS, Mr. Rupert Skillbeck were also part of the panel and illustrated the successes and challenges in the implementation of the right to redress and justice for victims of torture.

The event was followed by a workshop for approximately 20 representatives of civil society organizations from all regions to exchange experiences and expertise on ways to empower victims to obtain judicial remedies for torture.

For more information about the Public Event, access the Poster here and the Concept Note and Panellist Biographies here. Read the full report on the public panel and the expert workshop here.