Mahmoud Asvad – TURKEY
CON VALORES Network. October 19th. MatchUp©
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LAWYERS AND DOCTORS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (LDHR)
Lawyers and Doctors for Human Rights is a human rights organisation that conducts expert medical documentation for legal proceedings relating to patients reporting torture, cruel and inhumane treatment and sexual violence. The organisation is also known as LDHR. It is officially registered in Turkey, but works in Syria, Turkey and Jordan. Its doctors and lawyers started training and work in 2012, but formally registered as an NGO in 2015.
LDHR believes in the practical application of science and medicine as evidence to assist in the adjudication of criminal and human rights legal proceedings relating to torture, sexual violence and other violations. LDHR’s trained medical experts conduct professional medical evaluations according to the Istanbul Protocol: UN OHCHR Professional Training Series No. 8/Rev.1 Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, (2004), annexed to Un General Assembly Resolution 55/89, 2001.
The Istanbul Protocol applies international standards and methodology to identify and document signs and symptoms of torture and sexual violence for use as evidence in courts. It was developed over three years by more than 75 forensic physicians, psychologists, human rights experts and lawyers representing 40 organisations and institutions from 15 countries. In addition to the UN General Assembly Resolution, the Istanbul Protocol’s methodology has been endorsed by the African Commission for Human Rights, the European Union Guidelines to EU Policy Towards Third Countries on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 2001 and in national courts. LDHR experts have assisted in the current ongoing process to review the Istanbul Protocol.
LDHR experts have also been trained on and apply the principles set out in the International Protocol for Investigating and Documenting Sexual Violence in Conflict (International PSVI Protocol) (UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 2nd Edition, 2017).
Every expert medical evaluation (also known as a medico-legal report) includes the following components:
(a) a rigorous informed consent process which discusses risks of conducting an examination, taking photographs and preparing a report, as well as patient wishes and consent for storage, sharing and use for the information provided,
(b) a patient history,
(c) a full physical examination and psychological/mental status evaluation,
(d) photographs of physical findings,
(e) an expert report of the methodology, history, findings including body diagrams and photographs, as well as the expert’s medical opinion on the correlation between the narrated events and the medical findings, and
(f) where available, results of diagnostic tests or specialist referral reports if this helps the medical expert to better document, record and evaluate the medical results.
Every LDHR doctor has been trained and mentored on Istanbul Protocol and International PSVI Protocol methodology, including ethical and safety standards. LDHR has been supported since it started work by a multi-disciplinary group of international medical, psychological, human rights and criminal justice experts. Medical evaluations are augmented by a confidential, secure referral system for survivors to address medical and psychological care needs.
LDHR and its medical experts are committed to the principles of Do No Harm, objectivity, rigorous due process and fairness, quality assurance and the value of science and medicine in legal adjudicative process to reinforce justice and the rule of law.
Interviews are conducted by LDHR’s medical experts with the best possible level of confidentiality, privacy, physical and psychological integrity of the patients, taking into account the wishes, dignity and rights of the patients before, during and after the evaluation. LDHR strives to maintain the confidentiality of information during and after the interview. It also assures the preservation of original hard copy expert reports through a strict chain of custody procedures based on the known protection standards for evidence preservation for criminal courts.
LDHR’s Medical Expert Reports cover many of the government detention centres across governorates in Syria, and also extend to narrated events against other parties to the conflict. LDHR are committed to a future Syria where the human rights of all Syrians are protects and all violations are accounted for, regardless of the perpetrator.
The use of LDHR Expert Reports is only possible with survivor informed consent and based on a discussion of their wishes, objectives and rights.
LDHR’s medical expert reports have also been used to compile factual human rights reports about various different types of human rights violations against different groups of victims (and only with consent of the patients).
These can be found at http://ldhrights.org/en/?page_id=6032.