Photographic and filmic documentation has a high priority in the work against torture of Indian organization PVCHR.
On behalf of RCT and our Indian partner organization People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), Communication Consultant and film-maker Sofie Rørdam has made a film showing how PVCHR uses photos and video in its daily work to document and prevent torture and organized violence.
RCT has been partner with PVCHR for years and has as a strategic development goal to enhance the use of photos and videos in the work of foreign partner organizations.
Partner:People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) works towards a democratic India in respect of human rights. The organization does advocacy work and works with campaigns to increase awareness at an international-, national- and at grass-root level. PVCHR works to educate communities about their human rights, and focuses especially on the rights of marginalized groups. They also work to prevent police torture, and to secure the right to food and education. PVCHR has developed a special capacity as a knowledge centre promoting testimonial therapy for psycho-social rehabilitation of torture survivors.
PVCHR published a brochure on their work in 2011. Read it here.
In 2012 on behalf of RCT and PVCHR Comunication Consultant and film-maker Sofie Rørdam made this film on the use of photos and videos in PVCHR's work in documenting and preventing torture.
Context: International monitors report widespread violations of human rights, including the use of torture in India, the world's second most populous country.
India has signed the United Nations Convention against Torture (on 14 October, 1997), but the country has not ratified the convention. The Constitution, adopted in 1950, guarantees fundamental rights, such as the right to life and personal liberty, equality before the law, procedural rights, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, cultural and educational rights, and the right to redress in courts. However anti-terror legislation and the cast system in particular have contributed to a culture of impunity. The caste system continues to survive in modern India, and social structure prevents someone from a lower caste to enforce their rights.
Torture is not criminalized in domestic Indian law, and security forces and police perpetrate human rights violations frequently. Despite constitutional guarantees, legal protection and reports in the media, beatings, rape and torture seem to be part of a routine continuing unabated. Police torture has been documented and torture and organized violence (TOV) by both state and non-state parties against minorities occurs in India. Torture is used as standard operating procedure in police investigations of crime. Prisoners are one of the weakest constituencies in the society. They have no voting rights, have very limited access to the outside world, and are under the complete control of the prison authority. Trials can take years, and prisoners wait in overcrowded detention centers. Often, they have no lawyers, live in miserable conditions, do not have access to adequate medical care, and are likely to be tortured or exploited. Individuals who are poor and socially and politically marginalized are especially vulnerable to prolonged detention and ill-treatment. A significant number of torture cases, ill treatment and inhuman behaviour take place every year in the hands of the police. Under Indian law, there is no enforceable right to rehabilitation for torture survivors.
In a context of impunity, limited access to justice, and limited rehabilitation services, the PVCHR and RCT introduce a psycho-legal approach. The overall objective is a strong and well organized testimonial campaign, which contributes to eliminate impunity for perpetrators of torture in India
The project will work with rehabilitation, community empowerment and sustainable organizational strategies. The rehabilitation work will focus on Testimonial Therapy (TT) and the project will eventually serve as a platform for a scientific research project for validation of the TT approach.
The aim is to increase capacity for delivery of testimonial therapy among the organizations and institutions of the newly created National Alliance of Testimonial Therapy (NATT). NATT has been organized to provide an administrative structure for TT activities in India, including training and research. Information derived from testimonial therapy narratives will constantly be used to shape and strengthen advocacy campaigns supporting the prevention and elimination of torture.
Main activities of the RCT and the PVCHR partnership:
Member organizations of NATT will be trained on Testimonial Therapy (TT)
Direct support to survivors of torture through TT.
Community based honor ceremonies & folk school will be organized to foster community awareness and empower of survivors of TOV.
Initiation of advocacy campaigns against torture through NATT.
Setting up of consultation meeting with organizations allied with NATT, as to share knowledge and conduct the TT campaign.
Prepare and publish information materials about the testimonial approach.
Lobby with policy makers and governmental agencies, using testimonies to create awareness of the negative impact of torture.
Publish regular newsletters, pamphlets and reports through the NATT.
Draw national and international attention to torture in India through the use of web advocacy to disseminate testimonial narratives to a wider range of stakeholders.