Prevention of torture research to be presented at the Foreign Office

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Anti torture mural in West Bank

Richard Carver, Senior Lecturer in Human Rights and Governance at Oxford Brookes’ School of Architecture will speak at a Wilton Park conference on 30 March to present the initial findings of his research into the prevention of torture.

Wilton Park organizes international gatherings of decision-makers on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

There are many things countries are supposed to do to protect people from torture...International law requires states to do these things but up till now we haven’t had solid evidence that any of these measures actually work.

Richard Carver, Senior Lecturer at the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes

The Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) commissioned Dr Carver from Oxford Brookes’ Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP), to lead a three-year international study to determine whether existing torture prevention measures work and what can be done to reduce the risk of people being tortured. 

Richard Carver said: “There are many things countries are supposed to do to protect people from torture, such as making torture a crime, reviewing custody and interrogation rules and ensuring that any evidence gathered through torture is excluded from court proceedings. International law requires states to do these things but up till now we haven’t had solid evidence that any of these measures actually work.

“We have had research teams working for the past year in 12 countries worldwide gathering data on their history of torture prevention measures and torture incidence. Their findings will be added to the data that the core research team gathered in four pilot studies in 2013. This will be analysed both quantitatively and qualitatively to determine which if any of the prevention measures are effective and whether effective prevention measures vary in different situations.

“There have been more than 20 researchers involved, doing primary research back as far as the 1980s. When we have analysed all this data, we expect to be able to answer the question ‘what works?’ – but also, just as importantly, ‘what doesn’t?’”

The APT is a Geneva-based non-government organisation that has a unique overview and expertise in all aspects of the prevention of torture. The APT supports governments, justice systems, human rights institutions and civil society to take effective actions to prevent torture and other ill-treatment. 

Richard Carver recently presented his research at the UN Sub-Committee for the Prevention of Torture. The final results of the research will be published later this year. 

CENDEP is part of Oxford Brookes’ School of Architecture and is a multidisciplinary centre that brings together aid workers, academics and practitioners. CENDEP has an international reputation for training and educating humanitarian aid workers for working in areas of war, political violence and disaster. More information about CENDEP and the School of Architecture can be found on the Oxford Brookes website

Photo credit: Anti-torture mural in West Bank, Rory Carnegie