Survivors of Torture: Assistance, Care and Rehabilitation Conference
The final symposium of the Good practice (Torture Victims) project took place in Nicosia on the 28th of September 2011. The conference was organised as part of that symposium by Future Worlds Center and its Unit for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture (URVT). The Unit for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture (URVT) hosted the Ministry of Interior Asylum Service, UNHCR and Ombudswoman’s Office as well as its European partners from Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Romania and France for a symposium to discuss ways European Centres for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims can align their methods of operation to better serve vulnerable groups.
Future Worlds Center (leg.reg. Cyprus Neuroscience & Technology Institute – CNTI) is one of the six European partner organizations which are currently involved on the project ' Promotion and dissemination of good practice in addressing specific needs of vulnerable groups – especially victims of torture and human rights violations – based on a transnational in-depth study and evaluation of working and treatment methods ' which runs under the German Association of Psychological Centers for Refugees and Victims of Torture (BAFF) and is funded under the European Commission – European refugee Fund Community Actions 2009.
The Good practice (Torture Victims) project, aims to develop a common approach within the EU on the specific needs of most vulnerable groups, especially those who have undergone torture or other severe human rights violations.
Representatives from the Ministry of Interior, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR),and the Ombudsman's office presented their approach on the subject, whilst members from the project's partner organisations in Europe focused on their own experience. Additional to URVT's european partners, members of civil society; human rights advocates; academics; lawyers; psychologists; social workers and in general, professionals actively working in the field of refugees, asylum seekers and victims of torture were comprising the audience of the conference.
The conference started with an introduction for URVT by Future Worlds Center president Yiannis Laouris. Similarly, Elisse Bittendinder from BAfF introduced to the audience the project and it's goals. The official guests followed, discussing the issue under their perspective. Specifically, Mrs Evangelia Constantinou from the Asylum Service of the Ministry of Interior presented Cyprus Impression and state's policies on the matter; Mr Nasr Ishak from UNHCR explained the standard procedure in regards to asylum seekers and torture victims; and finally Mrs Kalia Kampanella from Ombudsman's office explained the situation for vulnerable groups in Cyprus. Finally, Pim Scholte from Equator Foundation in the Netherlands and Camelia Doru from ICAR Foundation in Romania meticulously presented their respective centers' situation, as well as their countries' policies and reality.
The conference, and the symposium in general, concluded with an interactive discussion between the guest-speakers, the partners from the European Organisations and the members of the audience which was tremendously productive. It was concluded that the current situation in Cyprus for such a serious matter which concerns heavily traumatized persons, as is the issue of identification and rehabilitation of survivors of torture, is not acceptable; the need for urgent action to rectify this is obvious.