The Medical Documentation of Torture

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Until recently, the only medical input to criminal and civil prosecutions relating to allegations of torture was from forensic pathologists investigating mass graves. It is now recognised, however, that witness evidence from those who survive atrocities can be supported by medical experts in documenting torture both immediately and many years after the event. As is patently evident from news coverage, the number of asylum seekers in the West fleeing persecution abroad is increasing steadily and there is a real need to provide those involved in examining these individuals with a comprehensive reference source which will underpin the Istanbul Protocol and provide the academic background for bringing prosecutions against alleged torturers before the newly mandated International Criminal Court. This book supports the work of doctors and lawyers undertaking three types of medical investigation: documentation of torture for the purpose of bringing criminal or civil charges in court against individuals or their supporting organisations; verification of allegations of torture, usually for the purposes of publication by organisations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights; documentation of torture in support of individual claims for refugee status, provided by doctors at such organisations as the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture. The book will be of practical use to doctors writing medical reports on alleged victims of torture or lawyers working in this field. It will also be of value to psychologists, human rights activists and academic researchers at all levels who are increasingly engaged in the documentation of torture. The editor was a member of the Editorial Committee of the Istanbul Protocol and many of the internationally respected contributors were also involved in its development.
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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Nicholas Greco IV, MS, BCETS, CATSM (Columbia College of Missouri)
Description: This book provides an excellent comprehensive reference source for clinicians treating victims of torture and provides the information needed to accurately document torture.
Purpose: The purpose of this book is to provide clinicians and lawyers with the tools they need to document torture in order to bring about both criminal and/or civil charges against individuals, groups, or organizations. Additionally, it will help these groups to provide verfication of allegations of torture and to appropriately document toruture to support individual claims. This is a worthy objective because of the considerable number of atrocities which occur and the number of claims for asylum. All of the contributing authors unquestionably meet their objectives.
Audience: This book is written for clinicians of psychology and medicine and those in the legal profession who work with victims of torture. However, I can see this book used in specialized training programs. The authors have considerable credibilty and are authorities in the field.
Features: This book is expertly written with specific explanations of the various forms of torture, the documentation needed by clinicians, the information on how to take a history and perform an examination, as well as the psychological consequences of torture. The level of detail in the writing and the appropriately selected pictures truly illustrate the trauma experienced by torture victims and the importance of trained individuals to handle such cases.
Assessment: This book is vivid, direct, and an eye-opener to many who may be unaware of the extent and aftermath of such acts. Having worked with a number of traumatized individuals over the years and as a member of the research community, I value such a reference. This book is a valuable resource to the field and I recommend it without reservation.

4 Stars! from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521117456
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/30/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

1. The problem of torture; 2. Doctors and torture; 3. General considerations; 4. Teamwork in the documentation of torture; 5. Torture and the international criminal court; 6. History taking; 7. Physical exam - acute; 8. Physical exam - chronic; 9. Examination following specific forms of torture; 10. Sexual abuse of females; 11. Sexual abuse of males; 12. Psychiatry overview; 13. Electric shock injuries; 14. The use of radiology.
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