Hero Victim Support V4 ©Stella Anastasia/OMCT

Victim Support

Torture is a crime of darkness, hidden from the public eye. This is why nobody knows how many people are victims of torture worldwide. What we know from testimonies is that these numbers are very large.

In Mexico, arrest by the Army carries an 86% risk of torture. In many countries, torture is the routine dirty secret of police stations and prisons. One in ten Russian citizens reported torture at the hands of police. During armed conflict, it proliferates like cancer. Syria is one example: reports speak of up to 14,000 people tortured to death by the government since 2011.

Those who survived have urgent and specific needs. Medical care, including psychological attention, comes first to mind. They also often need social support, including for the family's basic needs, as it might be the breadwinner who is the victim. When the victim’s life remains at risk, relocation to a safe haven is the only solution - inside or outside the country. Help must be swift and adapted to each specific situation. But most of the time, victims are poor, marginalized, and voiceless. They don’t know about centres providing specialized care or don’t have the financial resources to access them. Their chances of getting legal redress for the crime committed against them are even slimmer.

A unique urgent assistance programme
Survivors Felix Kossivi V4
Félix (left) and Kossivi (right) were left disabled after brutal beatings by Togolese police. OMCT funded their medical care ©Stella Anastasia/OMCT

Today, the OMCT is the only international non-governmental organisation that provides first assistance directly to women, men, and children who have survived torture. This is done via its Fund for Urgent Assistance for Victims of Torture. Victims can contact the OMCT directly or be referred by local organisations – often members and partners of our SOS-Torture Network – who don’t have themselves the resources to respond. Each case is assessed, verified, and monitored in collaboration with local partners.

The Fund intervenes only in emergencies. It doesn’t have a center specialising in medical care for torture victims, nor can it finance long-term medical treatment. What it does is provide victims with the amounts needed to give the first treatments via local organisations that belong to the OMCT SOS-Torture Network. The speedy nature of this assistance makes it a crucial instrument for people in desperate need of help.

Victims Support Interview With Victim Violent Repression Against Unión Patriótical Party OMCT
Interview with a victim about the violent repression against the Unión Patriótica political party ©OMCT

The Fund adopts a holistic approach that goes beyond healing the physical and psychological scars of torture and combines medical, social, and legal assistance. To overcome the suffering, the victim must obtain complete rehabilitation, compensation, social reintegration, and punishment of the guilty by a court of law. In addition, it is sometimes necessary to support the person in getting asylum in a third country.

In Tunisia, OMCT’s two SANAD centres provide legal, psychological, social, and medical assistance to hundreds of victims of torture and their families. The staff tailors a specific programme for the needs of each victim and works with dedicated lawyers, psychologists, medical doctors, and social workers from the public administration and specialized civil society organisations.

Are you a victim of torture in need of assistance?

We can offer legal, social, or medical assistance. For assistance requests or to better understand the information required by the OMCT for those seeking help, please download the form from this page and send it to victims@omct.org.