Strengthening the documentation of torture

DIGNITY helps civil society in North Africa to document torture and strengthen advocacy efforts

About 20 human rights defenders from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia gathered in Tunis this September, when DIGNITY held a 3-day workshop on documenting torture.

The participants, who were of different backgrounds, professions and levels of education, are all activists in the fight for human rights.

The documentation of torture cases happens on several different levels – right from the basic identification of the victim, to the meticulous documentation of who, what, when and how, which is necessary if criminal charges are to be pressed. The 3-day workshop focused on cases documented to be used in advocacy efforts – i.e to advocate for change, demand action from international stakeholders or raise awareness among the general public.

- We wanted to strengthen the human rights defender’s quality of documentation, so that their advocacy efforts may be more impactful, both nationally and internationally, says Giorgio Caracciolo, project manager at DIGNITY.

Read more about DIGNITY's work with prevention of torture in detention

At the workshop the participants shared experiences, challenges and knowledge and learned how their documentation work may be strengthened.

- One good advice is to never solely rely on one source of information. You must interview different people, in structured or semi-structured ways, and try to gather verification from other sources, such as medical-reports and so on. It can be difficult in certain settings, but it is important to look for the alternative ways of verifying, and hereby strengthening your case, says Giorgo Caracciolo.

Read more about DIGNITY's efforts in The Middle East and North Africa

Hopefully, the best practices and tips will not only strengthen the civil societies when advocating for justice and human rights.

- One other benefit of this is that it may provide some level of protection to the CSO’s, because if the torture cases are well-documented and verified, they cannot be accused of lying and manufacturing cases by their opponents, says Giorgo Caracciolo.

DIGNITY’s work in the Middle East And North Africa is supported by DAPP – Danish-Arab Partnership Programme.

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