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PHR’s Expertise on Stopping Torture

Back Scars

After leading the international effort to write the Istanbul Protocol, the international standard for documenting torture and ill treatment, in 1999, PHR has become a leader in the medical investigation and documentation of torture and ill treatment. We have investigated torture in Afghanistan, Chechnya, India, Iraq, Kosovo, Mexico, Sudan, Turkey, the United States, and Zimbabwe. In addition, PHR has built the capacity to document torture among health professionals from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, the Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Uganda.

Since 2011, PHR has focused efforts in Central Asia to challenge the impunity of torturers in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. Working with local partners and using the Istanbul Protocol, our program will improve the quality and quantity of torture investigations and successful prosecutions.

PHR also trains US-based health professionals in the use of Istanbul Protocol standards for documenting torture and persecution of asylum seekers in the United States. PHR’s Asylum Network of trained clinicians provides almost 500 forensic medical evaluations per year.

Antenna Scar
A 29-year-old woman beaten with a car antenna by national police displays a scar on her arm that reflects the antenna's characteristic shape. (Photo: Dr. Coleen Kivlahan)