Documenting Torture Internationally
The Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (pdf) (known as the Istanbul Protocol) is the first set of international guidelines for documentation of torture and its consequences. The Istanbul Protocol provides a set of guidelines for the assessment of persons who allege torture and ill treatment, for investigating cases of alleged torture, and for reporting such findings to the judiciary and any other investigative body.
The Istanbul Protocol was developed in 1999; it was the result of three years of analysis, research, and drafting undertaken by more than 75 forensic doctors, physicians, psychologists, human rights monitors, and lawyers representing 40 organisations and institutions from 15 countries. PHR's Senior Medical Advisor Dr. Vincent Iacopino was a lead author and project coordinator of the Protocol. It became a United Nations official document in 1999 and is available in a number of languages on the United Nations web site.
Medical documentation of torture and ill-treatment is often crucial in judicial proceeding, human rights investigations and monitoring, and in the care of torture survivors. Medical evaluations of torture and ill-treatment involve a thorough clinical evaluation of an individual’s physical and/or psychological health.
The Model Curriculum on the Effective Medical Documentation of Torture and Ill-treatment (Model Curriculum) was developed to enable health professional students to effectively investigate and document torture and ill-treatment. It consists of nine Modules and related supporting documents and contains essential information for students to develop the knowledge and skills required to conduct medical evaluations of torture and ill-treatment. The Modules include information on how to interview an alleged torture victim as well as the comprehensive guidelines for performing clinical examinations to detect physical and psychological evidence of torture and ill-treatment.
The Model Curriculum is designed to be used by instructors in seminar discussions or lecture presentations, and by individual students or student groups.