Emergency assistance to victims of torture has been a core mission of the OMCT since its creation in 1986. The urgency of the needs of torture victims cannot be overstated. Indeed, in a lot of cases, the latter face obstacles that prevent them from finding and receiving medical, social and/or legal aid. Many victims are unaware of the existence of specialized treatment and rehabilitation centres or lack the financial means necessary to obtain such services. The victims may be in need of vital medical treatment necessitated by the state of their health, or they may be trying to flee the country where they are in danger. Or, if an asylum process is under way, they may be trying to avoid deportation to their country of origin where they risk torture. In any event, such situations call for a prompt, efficient and appropriate response to their needs. This led the OMCT to create the Urgent Assistance Fund for Victims of Torture which to these days remains an essential component of the organisation’s identity, providing “a safety net to victims in the form of medical, legal or social aid”. The main aim of OMCT’s Fund is to assist every survivor of torture and ill-treatment and thereby give them access to effective remedy so that they get reparation, including rehabilitation for the violations that they have endured.
The Fund has enabled the OMCT to remain, today, the only international human rights NGO to grant – with support from its network of member organisations and partners – direct and multidimensional emergency aid to any torture victim, wherever they may be across the globe. From the time it began its work, the OMCT envisioned delivering assistance as part and parcel of the fight for human rights rather than solely as a humanitarian measure to relieve individual suffering.
In the time that it has been in existence, the OMCT has supported individuals whose cases have reverberated across international borders. However, above all, and away from the spotlight, it has provided crucial assistance and helped rehabilitate hundreds of people whose lives had been shattered by torture. To this day, these forgotten victims remain at the very core of the Fund’s approach.