Honoring Survivors on June 26

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On 26 June 2014, CVT staff, volunteers and board members gathered in the St. Paul Healing Center with survivors of torture to commemorate the anniversary of the Convention Against Torture. Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, Ph.D., L.P., Senior Consulting Clinician, offered these remarks to honor all survivors.

Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, PhD

Rosa Garcia-Peltoniemi, PhD

We are honored to observe the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture at our St. Paul Healing Center, where a community of providers, interpreters, and volunteers help heal and support survivors in rebuilding their lives.

Our unified stand goes well beyond those who are currently present with us today. Indeed, countless many others stand to honor torture survivors today, all around the world, as we also stand here to honor you. Continue reading

51.2 Million People were Forcibly Displaced Worldwide in 2013

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On June 20 – World Refugee Day – the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released its annual Global Trends report on the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide due to persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. This year’s report finds that an astonishing 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013 – six million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012. According to UNHCR, the 2013 number marks the first time in the post-World War II era that global forced displacement exceeded 50 million people.

UNHCR

UNHCR

If these 51.2 million persons were a nation, they would make up the 26th largest in the world.

UNHCR

Continue reading

CVT Hosts Expert Briefing on Fighting Impunity: Combating Torture & Human Trafficking

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Paul Linnell, the Humphrey Fellow for CVT in our Washington DC office, provides an informative and useful summary of our recent expert briefing on Fighting Impunity: Combating Torture & Human Trafficking.

On June 25, CVT convened a number of experts at our Washington, DC office for a panel discussion on ending the practice of impunity in torture and human trafficking. The event was held on the eve of June 26 – International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – commemorating the date when the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect.

In his opening remarks, CVT Executive Director Curt Goering elaborated on the title of the event, detailing how survivors of torture are often the victims of multiple human rights violations, including rape, sexual and gender based violence, and human trafficking, among others. Unfortunately, the practice of impunity stretches across all of these issues, denying justice to the victims and allowing perpetrator’s actions to go unpunished. While it was noted that strides have been made in recent years, including the establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002 and the advent of social media, crimes against humanity persist nevertheless. Curt closed with a call to action for human rights advocates and governments to ensure that we utilize the laws and mechanisms that we have in place to ensure accountability for those responsible for these crimes. Continue reading

A Conversation with David M. Crane, Recipient of CVT’s 2014 Eclipse Award

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Each year, CVT presents the Eclipse Award around June 26 – International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – to an individual or organization that has played a crucial role in the prevention of torture or treatment of torture survivors. The 2014 recipient is Professor David M. Crane, who is being honored for his extraordinary efforts in fighting impunity for torture. Professor Crane will be presented the Eclipse Award on June 25 in Washington, DC as part of an expert briefing on Fighting Impunity: Combating Torture & Human Trafficking. Paul Linnell, the Humphrey Fellow for CVT in our Washington DC office, recently spoke to Professor Crane about his work seeking accountability and justice for crimes against humanity.  Continue reading

Determined to Fight the Defeated Soul

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Every year on June 20, we pay tribute to the courage, strength and resilience of refugees. World Refugee Day invites all of us to see beyond “refugees” to the people who have responded to war and political violence in very human ways: They risk everything to save their families, they rebuild their lives from scratch, and they contribute to their communities in countless ways. Judith Twala, MA, CVT psychotherapist and trainer in Dadaab, Kenya, shares Sophia’s story (we changed her name to protect her identity).

JudithTwala

Judith Twala

During the Rwandan Genocide, rape was a weapon used against Tutsi women to strip them of their dignity and identity. Many Hutu women were raped as well, often because they were affiliated with Tutsi men. It was also a form of ethnic cleansing because any pregnancies resulting from rape meant that that baby would take the father’s – the perpetrator’s – ethnicity.

Sophia’s story is difficult to read. It shows how, in an instant, a person’s life is irrevocably changed. But it also exemplifies hope because today, Sophia wants to use her painful experience to protect other women living in refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya. Continue reading

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