The European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture (‘the European Network’) welcomes Denmark’s determination to combat torture, but criticises any proposal to restrict the European Court of Human Rights in its ability to interpret the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (‘the Convention’) in respect of family reunion, as suggested by the Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration. Proposals to limit such rights to citizens of the 47 countries which make up the Council of Europe, and to withdraw them from citizens of other countries, will severely restrict refugees‘ opportunities for family reunification.
On 15 November 2017 Denmark took the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. The European Network welcomes Denmark’s stated aim that “The Council of Europe must continue to combat torture … the Danish chairmanship will … make sure that the fight against torture is strengthened.”
However, Denmark has also announced plans to continue the programme of reform of the European Court of Human Rights. The European Network is concerned at reports that the Danish Minister for Immigration and Integration, Inger Støjberg, has suggested that these plans would lead to the restriction of the right to family re-unification, while it would no longer be a right for refugees – und thus for victims of torture among them – under article 8 of the Convention.
The European Network strongly opposes any measure that will result in denying any refugee the possibility of living together with their family. Evidence clearly demonstrates that victims of trauma and torture depend on their family for sustained rehabilitation and integration in the recipient country. State signatories to the UN Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), which includes the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, are required by article 14 of that Convention to “ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation, including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible.”
General Comment No. 3 of the Committee against Torture on the implementation of article 14 by States parties makes clear that the term “victim” also includes affected immediate family or dependants of the victim.
The European Network considers that the absence of immediate family and/or dependents has real and direct implications for and is detrimental to the successful recovery – both physical and psychological – for traumatised asylum seekers and torture survivors.
The risk of developing additional severe and enduring health problems is very high for those without their family and relatives particularly since the absence of family also weakens the torture survivor’s social networks which further impedes their sustained recovery.
The European Network therefore strongly disagrees with any proposals to restrict refugees’ access to family re-unification as this is likely to have devastating and irreversible health consequences to those torture survivors affected.
The European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture was founded in 2003. It is a professional network of doctors, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers and lawyers from over 100 organisations and rehabilitation centres in Europe that provide specialist rehabilitation to survivors of torture and other human rights violations, either asylum seekers and refugees in host countries or victims of past or current regimes. The conference in Bucharest was held from November 12 -14, 2017. It was the 16th European Network Meeting.
More information on the European Network: http://european-network.org/
More background info on the proposed changes: http://refugees.dk/en/news/2017/may/danish-chairmanship-of-the-council-of-europe-to-weaken-human-rights/
Towards global health: Refugees and victims of torture in Europe Today
From November 12th to 14th this year’s conference of the European Network will be held in Bucharest/ Romania.
In line with former European Network meetings, we will follow the usual format of discussions between health professionals from various disciplines in plenary debates, facilitated workshop discussions and moderated panels (partly open to the public). This year’s conference aims to examine key challenges in Europe to ensure sustainability of health and social care services as part of rehabilitation to refugees and survivors of torture in times of political insecurity and crisis. Finding ways to frame health consequences of man-made disasters as a public health concern will be discussed as well as opportunities, challenges and risks to be identified by professionals.
On Sunday morning (November 12th) from 10:00am to 12:00pm – previous to the conference start – there is the possibility to participate in an informal visit to the ICAR Foundation Rehabilitation center (address: 70, Unirii Blv, bloc J5, ground floor, please see map attached). For all participants and invited speakers the registration will take place from 02:00 – 03:00pm at the Romanian Athenaeum located at 1-3, Benjamin Franklin street, București 030167. The conference officially begins at 03:00pm on Sunday. At 06:30pm we will celebrate the 25th anniversary of ICAR Foundation with a cocktail reception.
On Monday 13th and Tuesday 14th the conference is located at the IBIS Parliament Hotel, 82-84, Izvor street, Bucharest 030167. The conference will end on Tuesday, November 14th at 04:30pm.
Registration and general enquiries
You can register via email at firstname.lastname@example.org until October 15th. Please note that the contingent for the hotel rooms will be held open till September 18th – if you register later you might have to make your own arrangement.
Between November 12th to 15th a limited number of rooms is available at IBIS Parliament Hotel (82-84, Izvor street, Bucharest 030167) and can be booked until the September 18th together with the registration (requested information: Date of arrival and departure) in the rate of: single room 50€ per day and per person (breakfast included). You will receive an invoice to make the payment transaction once you made your reservation.
The participation fee 100,-€ includes food and beverages from Sunday to Tuesday. We will send you the necessary bank details once you have registered via email.
Your registration will become effective once we have received full payment of your conference fee.