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WPA Section on Psychological Aspects of Persecution and Torture collaborates with conflict zones

The WPA Section on Psychological Aspects of Persecution and Torture has collaborated with the Syrian Association for Mental Health (SAMH) to encourage application of the Istanbul protocol (IP) - a Standard for the documentation and investigation of human rights violation allegations - that was created by the World Medical association (WMA), World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and United Nations for use in the Syrian region.

The Protocol has an important role to play in universal jurisdiction projects. These are projects set up by legal organisations to identify perpetrators of human rights violations (such as government, paramilitary, and non-state actor groups), encourage their investigation, and bring them to justice where possible.  Such projects also cover the issue of missing persons – an increasing challenge in war zones in particular – where people are abducted, tortured and killed.  Psychiatrists and forensic experts, who provide key support during witness statements and testimonies, can use the crucial (but often insufficiently applied) Istanbul Protocol while documenting as evidence the psychological and physical consequences of torture.

The Section is training psychiatrists on the use of the protocol (especially in Syria and Iraq) as well as in mental health care of survivors. Training sessions have most recently been conducted successfully in Turkey and Austria, with more planned for 2020.

Going forward the Section will continue to collaborate with the Red Cross as well as international bodies, regional health care networks and local Universities to test education and training models that integrate multimedia and online resources. 

Authors: Thomas Wenzel, Lilla Hardi, Joost den Otter



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