Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment

Using Visual Symbols to Fight Stigma and Advocate for Change

Visual imagery can be a powerful medium for mobilization and awareness around a specific issue. These depictions are especially potent if they utilize a consistent symbol, one that can capture the issue in a vivid and recognizable way. The Resource Centre for Gender Equality (ABAAD), established in 2011, has risen to considerable prominence for its annual “16 Days of Activism” campaigns, each with a different theme to address gender equity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Creating New Rituals to Replace Harmful Practices

Harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM), are complex problems that are often tied to deep-rooted cultural and religious beliefs. As a result, combatting FGM requires a complex and multi-leveled process. In Guinea-Bissau, Plan International partnered with local NGOs and the European Commission to facilitate discussions and educational sessions about the dangers of FGM with various members of the community involved or impacted by FGM. These members include the women and girls at risk or victims of FGM, the local “cutter”, religious leaders, the village chief or mayor as well as medical professionals. This process of raising awareness has resulted in using public declarations to abandon the practice.

Using text-messaging to build constituencies for human rights action

Amnesty International--The Netherlands uses text messaging technology to attract new members, especially young people, to the organization, to build awareness of its Campaign Against Torture and to encourage people to respond quickly to Urgent Action appeals. More than 500 new members have joined as a direct result of the text messaging recruitment and over 5,000 more have responded to Urgent Action appeals sent through text messaging.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using civil lawsuits to seek redress for victims of torture

The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) helps victims of torture by using United States Federal Laws to bring charges against their torturers, regardless of the country in which the torture took place. This tactic shows that redress can be sought against perpetrators of torture. In creating and applying these kinds of laws, governments show a commitment to justice for victims and to exposing those who are guilty of crimes against humanity.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Building local capacity for trauma-focused mental health services through an intensive training model

The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT) trains refugees as peer counselors in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The refu­gees provide mental health services to others who have suffered torture and war trauma, increasing the number of people CVT can serve and creating a cadre of qualified mental health paraprofessionals in communities that had previously had no mental health services. Paraprofessionals perform many of the tasks of professionals, but within a system of supervision.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating a professional organization that provides support and training to build professionalism among law enforcement personnel

The Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LINLEA) promotes professionalism among law enforcement personnel. LINLEA advances the perspective that law enforcement officers should be the leading human rights protectors and promoters, as prescribed by the law enforcement code of ethics and canons of police ethics. These codes challenge officers to respect the constitutional rights of all people to liberty, equality and justice.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using international mechanisms to apply pressure on a national government to institute policy and legal changes

The Committee for Administration of Justice (CAJ) used the United Nations Committee Against Torture to raise local human rights issues to the international level. In order to use international mechanisms such as this effectively, a number of other tactics were used including written submissions to the Committee, lobbying in Geneva and monitoring the impact the recommendations of the various Committee reports have had on Northern Ireland in terms of actually improving the human rights situation on the ground.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Protecting arrested demonstrators by protesting outside the police stations where they are being detained

The Serbian police made an habitual response to all actions of arresting activists. The arrests threatened to demoralize young activists and intimidate them into giving up. Otpor! (“Resistance!” in Serbo-Croatian) prepared secondary demonstrations — their “Plan B” — outside police stations to respond immediately to arrests during protest events. The police were less likely to beat or detain the activists, knowing that large crowds and a number of journalists were waiting outside for them, while the activists felt less afraid, thanks to the support they knew they were receiving.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution to prevent the involvement of the police, who are potential abusers.

As an alternative to the criminal justice system, the Centre for Victims of Torture (CVICT) in Nepal has created a process of community mediation. This process keeps some people from being needlessly arrested and brought to police stations, where 60 percent of prisoners are tortured into giving confessions. CVICT conducted research on what types of disputes were occurring, then developed a training course for com­munity leaders, including women and Dalits (of the untouchable caste), on settling disputes with a rights-based community mediation method. Community mediation would be available for disputes other than violent crimes and to everyone, regardless of age, sex, class or social caste. To recruit trainers, CVICT held mass meetings in each community and asked for nominations. The trainers were then trained in human rights, local laws and methods of handling disputes. Many who were already involved in mediating disputes could build on their existing skills. These trainers then trained others at the local level.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using international lobbying leverage to advance national adoption of international policy mechanisms

In September 2008, the Association Libanaise pour l’Education et la Formation (ALEF) launched an international lobbying campaign at the European Union (EU) and United Nations (UN) in order to push the Lebanese state to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Convention against Torture (OpCAT).

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment