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Implementation of Istanbul Protocol for effective documentation of torture – review of Sri Lankan perspectives

Authors
Journal
Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine
1752-928X
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
18
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.jflm.2010.09.010
Keywords
  • Documentation
  • Torture
  • Istanbul Protocol
Disciplines
  • Law
  • Medicine
  • Political Science

Abstract

Abstract Documentation of torture is a multidisciplinary, multistage scientific procedure evolved over the past decades through the experience of various strata in medical and related fields. It plays a key role in effective corroboration of facts, providing redress to victims and also has a long term regulatory impact on prevention of torture in a society. The UN endorsed Istanbul protocol serves as the model for effective documentation of torture in the present context and there were many attempts in the recent years to create a systematic and uniform approach among professional bodies to document torture by adopting it to the local medico-legal and legal systems in some less resourced countries. The post independent Sri Lanka is widely known in international human rights forums for the prevalence of torture and its endemicity since 1970s. The long term struggle to ensure justice to torture victims in Sri Lanka has been greatly enhanced by the submission of detailed medico-legal reports on them to relevant courts. As strengthening of medico-legal and legal reporting strategies were more focused towards the end of twentieth century the medico-legal and legal professionals in consensus attempted to use Istanbul Protocol for documentation of torture since 2004. However Sri Lankan experience on application of Istanbul protocol for documentation of torture signifies that unless and until a political commitment is shown by the government to internalize Istanbul Protocol into legal and medico-legal systems locally the expected outcome of effective documentation would not be evident.

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