UBC Graduate Research

Special Competencies for Psychological Assessment of Torture Survivors Huminuik, Kirby


In spite of the absolute prohibition against torture in international law, this grave human rights abuse is still practiced systematically and with impunity in the majority of countries around the world. Mental health professionals can play a positive role in the fight against torture and impunity, by developing competencies to assess the psychological sequelae of torture. High quality psychological evidence can help to substantiate allegations of torture, thereby increasing the likelihood of success in civil, administrative and criminal proceedings. This article will orient mental health professionals to issues specific to forensic assessment of torture survivors. It provides a brief introduction to the socio-political context of torture, reviews literature on the psychological sequelae of torture, introduces the reader to key competencies, offers information on strategies for producing documentary evidence and expert opinion, highlights ethical considerations and suggests areas for development in the field.

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