Psychological Consequences of Torture & Persecution

CHAIR: Pau Perez Sales Pau Perez-Sales Address: Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Hospital La Paz, SiRa.
Centro de acompañamiento psicojuridico, atención y documentación a víctimas de violencia,
Community Action Group. Resource Center in Mental Health and Human Rights, Escultores 3. 6A.
Tres Cantos, Madrid, Spain

CO-CHAIR: Gabriel Diaconu' Address: Psychiatrist, Associate Investigator at McGill Group for Suicide Studies,
Medlife Memorial Hospital, Grivitei 365, Sect.1, Bucharest, Romania

SECRETARY: Joost den Otter Joost den Otter
Address: Public health specialist, ICRC Kashmir, India


>> Please click here to see the Section Members list.


The membership is open to participants with outstanding achievements in the field and/or willing to be active in the section. Applications are reviewed by the section board, please supply a curriculum vitae and recommendations.

Working groups
Working groups had been set up to support the rapid development of core projects of the section, especially in regard to possible recommendations for the treatment of torture and war survivors in asylum procedures, diagnostical strategies, prevention, training programmes, and publications. Working groups permit effective small group work either by tele - meeting or physical meetings by a geographically close group to reduce travel expenses. Working groups are at present preparing draft guidelines in different areas related to the subject of the section, especially on the protection of exiled asylum seekers and on treatment. Another working group is focusing on the preparation of an educational programme based on the revised CD-ROM.

Educational material
The educational CD ROM that had been first presented during the World Conference of Psychiatry in Hamburg, 1999 has been revised with a new user interface and additional material. A third edition with also time audio-visual media, is under revision, new will be available from the website. The CD is following the concept of easy readability by technically simple PC systems, low costs or free distribution in economically poor countries. The open concept permits the continuous addition of new material, while older material can be retained without additional costs. The option of including material in other languages, like Spanish and French, are is also under preparation. A selection of human rights instruments with a special focus on health professionals has also been prepared by the secretary of the section. Selected print out versions are, parts of the material will be put on the website.

The section newsletter
The section newsletter has been continued, the electronic format has been retained to keep costs low and avoid asking for section membership fees. IRCT in Denmark has graciously offered to distribute the email newsletter by fax or mail for those section members who do not have access to e mail. To avoid harassment because of the stigma attached to our patients in many countries, the PGP security system for electronic communications will be installed where possible.

Sequels to Torture and Persecution
In addition, the section edits a peer-reviewed electronic journal (Sequels to Torture and Persecution).. For information please contact the secretary of the section. It is planned to make the journal available from the WPA website.

Section sponsored symposia
Section sponsored symposia have been set up during WPA regional and thematic conferences and also during symposia of other organizations in the field of mental health, which are listed below. A list of contributions and a selection of abstracts is included on the CD ROM publication.

  • WPA World Conference on Psychiatry, Hamburg
  • WPA Internet Conference (Virtual Conference), Spain, 2000
  • WPA Jubilee Conference, Paris, 2000
  • International Conference on Law and Mental Health, Siena, Italy, 2000.
  • AEP conference, Prague, 2000.
  • International Conference on Law and Mental Health, Montreal, 2001.
  • WPA Conference, Madrid, 2001.
  • International Conference on Law and Mental Health, Amsterdam, 2002.
  • World Conference on Psychotherapy, Vienna, 2002.
  • WPA Conference, Yokohama, 2002.

Also, the Latin American group has been especially active in the preparation of meetings (Dr. Lagos) and in the coordination of regional activities.

Persecution of Psychiatrists and other Health Professionals
Concern has been stated by the section committee on the ongoing persecution of Physicians, Psychiatrists and Psychotherapists, as also other helpers, who are treating survivors of torture and similar acts of persecution.

It was agreed, that international agreements and guidelines to interdict the participation of physicians in acts of torture and unprofessional conduct, must also be completed by support of those who suffer from persecution because of keeping to the guidelines. The section will work to develop strategies to help these health professionals in danger, taking also into account that the persecution of physicians will directly impair the basic aspects of the treatment process, and frighten away physicians and patients from treatment.

Victims of the political abuse of Psychiatry
The victims of the NS Euthanasia and "racial hygiene" programmes are to be remembered - for information see the virtual exhibition of Austrians D ÖW organisation

Collaboration and intersectional contacts
Contacts have been set up with professional organization in the field, intensifying the collaboration with the International Academy of Law and Mental Health, IRCT, and groups on Forced Migration in several professional organizations, including the European Association for Psychotherapy, the World Medical Association, the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration, and the World Council for Psychotherapy. Contacts have been made with members of the Section on Transcultural Psychiatry, the Section on Forensic Psychiatry, Psychoanalyses in Psychiatry, Ecology, Psychiatry & Mental Health, and other sections.

Balkan projects
For the participation in the WPA project for Eastern Europe: see separate report (available later). This important development, based on an initiative of the president with support of the board, has been met with high interest in the involved Eastern European countries.

Counsellors and advisory board
The section has set up a board of experts to be available for advise in specific areas. Advisors of the section have been present in Turkey trials, and have been given expertise in the case of abusive asylum expertises in countries of exile.

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - Information Note, October 2, 2003

>> Letter from Prof. Ahmed Okasha , WPA President, to Rasit Turkel, President of the Turkish Neuropsychiatric Association and Peykan Gokalp, Secretary of the Turkish Neuropsychiatric Association

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - Information Note, 10.12.2003

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan

>> Letter from Inge Genefke, Chair of the WPA Section on Psychological Consequences of Torture and Persecution, to Marianne Kastrup, Chair of the WPA Review Committee

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - IRCT Media Release, 22 April 2003

>> Letter from Prof. Ahmed Okasha , WPA President, to Prof. Kuey, President of the WPA Zone 8 Representative and to Prof. Peykan Gokalp, Secretary of the Turkish Neuropsychiatric Association

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - IRCT Media Release, Copenhagen, Thursday 13 January 2004

>> WMA Support letter for Alp Ayan

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - IRCT Media Release, Copenhagen 17 February 2004

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - Information Note, 27 October 2003

>> The case of the Turkish Psychiatrist Dr. Alp Ayan - Information Note, 15 December 2003, IRCT Media Release

>> Letter from Prof. Ahmed Okasha , WPA President, to Levent Kuey, WPA Zone Representative (Zone 8)




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