The regional meetings – from the Middle East to Latin America– often provide our member centres a chance to meet their peers in rehabilitation of torture survivors, compare problems and challenges, and learn from each other on the best ways forward.
Last week, the IRCT organised a meeting for its European members in Brussels. The meeting lasted two days and facilitated the exchange of ideas on rehabilitation and current challenges between representatives of 32 rehabilitation centres based in Europe.
Despite the deep challenges – from funding to documenting torture cases in asylum hearings – the sense of optimism, good humour and passion about the future of work with survivors of torture emanated from the 44 participants of predominantly doctors, legal advisors, and psychologists.
We, at the IRCT Brussels Office, were in charge of organising the meeting, attended by our European members and other regional centres. Hélène (head of the IRCT Brussels Office) explained how the Brussels office could help and assist all member centres, especially when it comes to coordination, funding opportunities and lobbying of EU institutions. The meeting was then divided into workshops on various topics such as the use of medico-legal reports or sharing of experiences concerning stress management in rehabilitation centres. We also made sure that enough free time was given for participants to meet each other and to exchange ideas and experiences on the daily work of their centres.
From the first feedback and comments we received from participants, we can say that, all in all, this IRCT European Alliance meeting was a big success – participants enjoyed the topics covered and the networking opportunities. Torture in Europe remains an important challenge today, and I am very happy to see that doctors and psychologists working in rehabilitation centres from Ireland to Armenia and from Finland to Turkey are ready to gather, learn, and to face this challenge together.
Nicholas works at the IRCT Brussels Office and has a background in politics and EU affairs, particularly in regards to immigration and asylum policies. The regional seminar was supported by the European Commission.