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40 profiles of survivors and practitioners

For 40 years, the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture has assisted hundreds of thousands of victims of torture to access rehabilitation services and obtain redress in every region of the world.

To mark its 40th anniversary, the Fund published 40 profiles over 40 days, starting on 26 June, the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 2022. The 40 stories feature people from all corners of the globe who have survived the unthinkable and have managed to rebuild and give back. All continue to fight for the right to redress, healing, and humanity for torture survivors.

Torture survivors and NGO make big strides towards justice
In January 2022, Wassim Mukdad, a musician and doctor submitted to torture, and other survivors of crimes against humanity in Syria finally obtained justice. A court in Germany convicted a senior Syrian officer for these human rights violations, on the basis of universal jurisdiction. Relying on universal jurisdiction— a little known feature of international law —, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) led the strategic litigation case, with co-funding from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
29 April 2022

“A victim of torture is one too many,” says UN expert
Since 1981, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture has helped an average of 50,000 victims of torture every year in countries in every region of the world. A special webinar was organized to mark the 40th anniversary of the Fund and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, by the four UN mandates working against torture, in partnership with UN Human Rights and the American University, Washington College of Law, Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law.
13 July 2021

Justice for Nigerian complainants supported by the UN fund for torture victims
In Nigeria, Avocats sans Frontières France, an organization supported by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, achieves redress for three victims of torture and arbitrary detention in seminal court cases.
30 October 2020

COVID-19 exacerbates the risk of ill-treatment and torture worldwide – UN experts
The UN Anti-Torture mechanisms unanimously warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to an escalation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide, and torture survivors are especially in danger of getting infected by the lethal virus.
26 June 2020

Forced sterilisations in Peru: one woman’s fight for justice and redress
In the late 1990s, some 300,000 Peruvian women were subjected to a programme of sterilisation, ordered by the government’s National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Programme. Maria Elena Carbajal Cepeda was one of these women. She now heads an organisation which is defending the rights of survivors.
26 June 2019

Experts recognise sexual and gender-based violence amounting to torture
Recognising that sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) may amount to torture empowers victims to seek redress and rehabilitation as well as holds States accountable for better provision for victims, said Gaby Oré Aguilar, a member of the Board of Trustees the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
15 April 2019

I fight for the rights of the most vulnerable
Aneta Genova Mircheva doesn’t think of herself as a human rights defender. Yet as a member of Validity, an international NGO that uses the law to secure equality, inclusion and justice, she fights for the rights of those with mental disabilities in Bulgaria.
12 April 2019

The Right to Voice: sexual violence survivors from Colombia tell their stories
Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence from Colombia tell their stories in a photo exhibition being displayed at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
1 April 2019

Syrian victims seek justice against their torturers
Khaled Rawas and 21 other Syrians survivors look to a German court to seek redress for the inhuman treatment they suffered at the hands of their torturers in Syria. The UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture is supporting their quest for justice.
2 May 2018

Access to justice is a form of rehabilitation for torture victims
Despite remarkable progress made in the international framework to prohibit torture, there needs to be greater focus on victims being able to access justice through victim-centered work, stated the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore. Gilmore made her remarks during a panel discussion on access to justice for victims of torture organized by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
13 April 2018

Soumayya’s story: A bold fight against female genital mutilation
“This is a practice that is injuring the bodies of women, the bodies of girls,” said Soumayya, who took a courageous stand against female mutilation and was imprisoned and tortured for her resistance to the widespread practice. Her fight continues to this day. Here is her story.
1 December 2017

Victim to victor: the story of Souleymane Guengueng
Souleymane Guengueng is one of the victims of torture who has demanded justice for the atrocities they endured under the dictatorship of Chad’s Hissène Habré.
19 January 2017

The UN Fund stands with victims of torture on 26 June
On 26 June, experts say no to torture and yes to the rights and needs of victims.
24 June 2016

A story of resilience: From torture victim to therapist
Chilean torture survivor and leading neuropsychiatrist Jorge Barudy works with refugees and victims of torture through his award winning center EXIL.
31 May 2016

Refugee crisis in Europe triggers torture victim’s painful past
Vive Žene, an organization supported by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture, maintains Azra’s sense of family years after the terror of her captivity during the Bosnian war.
9 May 2016

Recovered identity: a reunion mends years of pain in Argentina
In Argentina, Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, a civil society organization supported by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture, makes best use of DNA bank to help Guillermo find his true family.
26 April 2016

Experts share challenges of healing children affected by torture
A unique workshop organized by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture spotlights resilience in treating children and halting trauma through generations.
15 April 2016

From horror to healing
A young Syrian girl who was able to deal with the traumatizing physical and psychological effects of torture is one of the many stories featured in a new brochure produced by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.
1 April 2016

UN Fund for Victims of Torture plays a role in landmark ruling for indigenous women in Guatemala
The UN Fund for Victims of Torture, along with local civil society actors, provides support to victims whose testimonies helped convict two former military members of crimes against humanity in Guatemala.
16 March 2016

Supporting victims of torture and rebuilding lives
On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commits to leading the United Nations in denouncing torture and defending human rights around the world.
26 June 2015

Fight against torture: “Are we doing enough?”
Ending torture means ending impunity for those who commit it, as well as providing rehabilitation and reparation to victims, practitioners told a large audience of representatives from Member States and the public during a public meeting convened by the UN Fund for Victims of Torture.
24 April 2015

Rebuilding lives torn apart by torture
Fund recipients will join board members during a meeting of the UN Voluntary Fund for the Victims of Torture. The meeting, which takes place in Geneva in April, gives a chance for Fund recipients to exchange best practices and meeting with the Fund’s Trustees.
13 April 2015

Rebuilding lives after torture – Dieynaba’s story
Dieynaba Ndoye Dieng helps victims affected by torture from all over West Africa
15 December 2014

Healing torture survivors: A call for action on the International Day in support of victims of torture
Over the past three years, the annual voluntary contributions to the UN Fund for Victims of Torture have decreased dramatically by 30% although needs for assistance are on the rise.
25 June 2013

The power of art therapy for torture survivors
Torture “leaves scars on people, communities and entire societies that can be very difficult to heal,” says UN Human Rights chief Navi Pillay.
24 June 2011

UN helps torture victims rebuild their lives
Torture survivors rebuild their lives at VIVRE CAPREC, a rehabilitation centre funded by the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture.
25 May 2011