Denmark and France mobilize forces in dealing with the consequences of torture

On the occasion of the French President, Emmanuel Macron's State visit to Denmark on August 28 and 29, Denmark and France sign a Letter of Intent regarding a new Master's Degree Program in the Trauma Treatment of Victims of Torture and Political Violence. And the need is urgent. A huge step in the right direction, says DIGNITY's director, Karin Verland, who is the co-signatory of the agreement.

Foto: Reuters. 

Untreated trauma and suffering as a result of torture and political violence are causing loss of resources over generations and it has great social, personal and economic costs. Both for the individual and for the family.

In Denmark, about 30,000 people with refugee backgrounds live with the consequences of torture. Torture survivors often suffer from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, sleep discomfort, nightmares, memory and concentration difficulties, anger, and PTSD.

Through treatment that alleviates the suffering of the torture victim, it is possible to achieve both social and personal benefits of the individual in terms of better functioning, thus improving opportunities for active participants in local communities, in the family and in working life.

Master's degree is missing

However, today there is no international, comprehensive, higher education of professionals such as doctors, psychologists and social workers who treat victims of torture, political violence and other inhuman and degrading treatment.

Denmark and France will now make this happen by jointly establishing a scientifically based Master's Degree Program in trauma treatment for professionals working in the field.

This is much welcomed by DIGNITY, one of the co-signers on the Letter of Intent regarding the new Master's program, and who, in connection with the agreement, undertakes to provide its expertise and knowledge of the treatment of torture victims. And the need is huge:

- There is a lack of knowledge from professionals and professionals around the world about this particular field. With this agreement we combine forces internationally, and therefore this agreement is a huge step in the right direction, says Karin Verland, Director of DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture.

France's ambassador to Denmark, Francois Zimeray, former ambassador to human rights, welcomes the forthcoming Master's program. It is long awaited:

- An X-ray of a broken arm is the same on a victim of a traffic accident and a torture victim. In the former case, 99% of the work is done when the arm is laid in plaster, whereas only 1% of the work is done for the latter. I have always wondered why there is a lack of specialization in the treatment of torture victims. This new agreement is a major step towards the creation of a new medical specialty.

The parties signing the Letter of Intent regarding the new cooperation are: University of Copenhagen, Paris Descartes University and the two civil society organizations DIGNITY - Danish Institute Against Torture and the French pendant Primo Levi Center.

DIGNITY and the Primo Levi Center in France are both working to treat and rehabilitate victims of trauma after torture, violence and other inhuman and degrading treatment.

As part of the agreement, the parties undertake to cooperate to find funding for, and establish, the first academic education specializing in the treatment of victims of torture and political violence. The education is aimed at professionals such as doctors, psychologists and social workers and focuses on dealing with trauma in victims of torture and political violence. The focus will be on the health aspects, psychological trauma and their impact, as well as the social and family consequences of violence and torture, etc.


DIGNITY was the first center in the world to establish a proper treatment for people with trauma after torture and political violence and for 36 years DIGNITY has built up expertise in the field, disseminated knowledge and influenced therapists throughout the world.