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Annual report 2020
08

Victim support

In 2020, lockdown measures implemented in response to the Covid-19 pandemic made it difficult for torture survivors to access assistance. Travel restrictions prevented our partner organisations on the ground from coming into direct contact with survivors and their families.

Although there was no decline in requests for assistance from torture victims in 2020, health restrictions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, including repeated lockdowns, sometimes forced aid providers to adopt new ways of working. This was the case for OMCT Tunisia's SANAD programme, which, like the OMCT’s Fund for Urgent Assistance for Victims of Torture, provides a range of free legal, social, psychological and medical assistance to victims. The SANAD team, which works directly with survivors and their families, had to be creative in order to continue to meet the needs of its beneficiaries, whose numbers continued to grow, particularly in the second half of 2020.


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torture victims benefited from the OMCT’s Urgent Assistance Fund in eight countries in 2020.

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new torture victims were assisted by SANAD Tunisia in 2020.

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specialised psychologists are working with torture victims in Tunisia.

As it was impossible to travel to the field during lockdowns, SANAD worked with beneficiaries, administrations and partner associations by telephone and online. Discussion groups were conducted with beneficiaries via secure virtual platforms. SANAD also set up reimbursement arrangements with pharmacies so that beneficiaries could pick up their medicines directly without having to pay anything.

Despite these challenges, the SANAD team was able to continue to support the victims and/or their families, whether in getting their children into school, obtaining free health care or housing, or finding a job. This assistance is all the more necessary as many victims of institutional violence come from disadvantaged backgrounds, whether in Tunisia or elsewhere.

Obtaining justice is essential to enable torture survivors to rebuild their lives, but also extremely difficult as in most cases the torturers are public officials. The pandemic has further exacerbated the situation by slowing down the work of the courts. In Tunisia, to address the shortcomings of the judicial system and provide victims with quality legal assistance, in 2020 the OMCT created SANAD-Elhaq ("the law" in Arabic) which brings together the SANAD team and 17 lawyers. This new entity has conducted strategic litigation to challenge arbitrary administrative control measures imposed on people who have been listed, as well as the arbitrary detention of migrants.

SANAD Elhaq has also developed judicial strategies to overcome the obstacles faced by victims of torture and ill-treatment in their quest for justice.

With its Fund, the OMCT is currently the only international human rights NGO providing direct, multi-dimensional urgent assistance to victims of torture anywhere in the world.


The pandemic has led to a significant increase in requests for social assistance, which is all the more necessary as many cases of institutional violence involve highly disadvantaged social groups. Thanks to our Fund for Urgent Assistance for Victims of Torture, we have been able to support several of our local partners and offer assistance to victims and their families, for example in the Philippines and Colombia.

With its Fund, the OMCT is currently the only international human rights NGO providing direct, multi-dimensional urgent assistance to victims of torture anywhere in the world.

  • In Colombia, we have supported a total of 100 victims and relatives of victims of State crimes and socio-political violence. These people, who tend to be mothers, elderly people, peasants or unemployed people, live in extremely precarious conditions which have been exacerbated by the health crisis and lockdown measures adopted in 2020. The OMCT’s support has enabled them to buy food and cover their basic necessities.
  • In the Philippines, social assistance was provided to the families of victims of extrajudicial killings as a result of President Duterte's "war on drugs". A total of 179 people, most of whom were widows and orphans, benefitted from this aid, which covered their basic needs during the government-imposed lockdown period.
  • In Burundi, five rape victims received social, medical and psychological support. Thanks to the approach taken to healing the physical and mental trauma of rape, these survivors have been gradually reintegrating into society. All the victims received financial support to open small businesses to support themselves and their families.

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Our work with Tunisian survivors

Hatem, 61 years old, had his jaw broken and lost his teeth following an attack by the police. Thanks to SANAD, he underwent surgery, was able to acquire a dental prosthesis, a free healthcare card and a permanent allowance from the Tunisian Ministry of Social Affairs.

Torture left Leila, 32, with severe spinal damage and disabling back pain. Hospital treatment facilitated by SANAD led to a marked improvement in her health.

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