Freedom from Torture
|Founded||1985 by Helen Bamber in the United Kingdom|
|Services||Treating survivors of torture, advocacy|
|Susan Munroe (CEO)|
Freedom from Torture (previously known as The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture) is a British registered charity which provides therapeutic care for survivors of torture who seek protection in the UK. Since it was established in 1985, over 57,000 survivors of torture have been referred to the organisation for help and it is one of the world’s largest torture treatment centres.
Freedom from Torture provides medical and psychological documentation of torture, a range of rehabilitation therapies, including psychotherapy, individual and family counselling, physiotherapy and complementary group work as well as practical advice and support. It trains health, legal and policy professionals throughout the UK to work with the complex needs and rights of torture survivors.
A key area of Freedom from Torture's work is to advocate for torture survivors and to ensure states responsible for torture are held accountable. It works to guarantee the human rights of survivors nationally and internationally. Freedom from Torture also supports Survivors Speak OUT (SSO), the UK’s only torture survivor-led activist network. All members are former Freedom from Torture clients.
Freedom from Torture began in the early 1980s, as part of the Medical Group of Amnesty International. The organisation was set up to improve existing health services for torture survivors in the UK. This work initially took the form of campaigns against violations of human rights and the documentation of evidence of torture by volunteer health professionals and senior medical specialists as a reaction .
In 1985, under the leadership of Helen Bamber, the organisation was established as a registered charity. It provided medical treatment, counselling and therapy to torture survivors and documented evidence of torture using the Istanbul Protocol. Sponsorship came from the heads of the Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists and Royal College of Surgeons of England.
It worked at first in two rooms in the former National Temperance Hospital, off Hampstead Road in north-west London. By 1990, the organisation was treating 750 clients and then moved to a building in Grafton Road, Kentish Town.
The organisation began a regional programme  in late 2003 with the opening of a centre in Manchester, treating clients living in the north-west. This followed the Government's Dispersal scheme on BBC News, which saw asylum seekers relocated outside London.
In 2004, the London headquarters moved into a £5.8m treatment centre in Isledon Road, Finsbury Park. The building was purpose-built by architect Paul Hyett. Freedom from Torture’s Scotland centre opened in Glasgow in 2004, followed by the Newcastle centre in 2006 and the Birmingham centre in 2009. These regional centres were opened to treat torture survivors who had been dispersed outside London.
Freedom from Torture provides a range of services for its clients. These include medical consultation, examination and forensic documentation of injuries through medico-legal reports, psychological and physical treatment and support, and practical help.
The organisation employs over 200 staff and volunteers in the five centres, including medical doctors, caseworkers, counselors, legal advisers, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, psychologists, interpreters, child and family therapists and group workers.
Over 75 interpreters are employed, who work in 50 different languages and dialects.
Since the organisation was founded in 1985, the organisation has received around 52,000 referrals.
In 2011, Freedom from Torture’s five centres received 1,546 referrals for individuals from 86 different countries. For the same year, 69.7% of referrals were from the following 10 countries: Iran (267), Sri Lanka (233), Afghanistan (108), Democratic Republic of Congo (90), Turkey (79), Pakistan (56), Uganda (52), Iraq (48), Nigeria (45) and Sudan (39).
The organisation's Medico Legal Report Service accepts referrals from torture survivors, their friends and family, GPs, solicitors, refugee community organisations or any other voluntary or statutory sector body. Medico-legal reports provide detailed evidence of the extent of a torture survivor’s injuries and trauma. Freedom from Torture's team of clinical staff apply international standards for documenting torture in these assessments.
Freedom from Torture is an independent registered charity. According to the organization, they rely on donations from individuals for almost three quarters of their funding.
- About Freedom from Torture, accessed 13 March 2017
- The Guardian “UK failing Syrian refugees who survived torture, say MPs”, 13 January 2017, accessed 13 March 2017
- BBC News “Torture evidence ignored by Home Office, says charity”, 21 November 2017, accessed 13 March 2017
- About Survivors Speak OUT, accessed 13 March 2017
- Huffington Post “Home Truths About Torture”, 3 March 2017, accessed 13 March 2017
- The Guardian “Hissène Habré's conviction the first step on a longer road to justice for Chad”, 3 June 2016, accessed 13 March 2017
- Freedom from Torture history: http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/about/33
- Freedom from Torture's Regional Program http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/about/15
- "The Integration of Refugees - Positive Practice for Health Professionals", Home Office National Refugee Integration website, accessed 12 February 2011
- Freedom from Torture: What we do http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/5176
- Statistics taken from Annual Review 2012 http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/sites/default/files/documents/FFT_Ann.Rev-2011-f.pdf