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Human Dignity and Public Security

Providing research-based support in order to fight torture and ill-treatment globally

Freedom from torture is universally recognised as an absolute and non-derogable right and international human rights treaties and standards contain numerous preventive obligations. Nevertheless, torture remains a problem in the majority of States worldwide, often even on a widespread or systematic scale. States fail to implement their obligations due to a lack of political will or adequate capacities, or to a lack of efficient preventive measures. International and national oversight mechanisms do not achieve to effectively follow up their recommendations to provide the necessary support to or exert pressure on the responsible authorities.

The Human Dignity and Public Security team at the BIM is specialised in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of human rights in the criminal justice system. The team was established in 2004 to support Manfred Nowak’s mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), investigating the situation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide. Observing the lack of follow-up and implementation of recommendations for the prevention of torture, the team has since then carried out extensive research on the effectiveness of torture prevention measures, focusing particularly on the following questions:

  • What measures and mechanisms are effective in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of detainees’ rights?
  • How can existing legal and institutional frameworks be strengthened to more effectively prevent torture and protect human rights, especially the rights of detainees?
  • How can monitoring and oversight mechanisms ensure the implementation of national and international human rights obligations?

The Institute is guided by the idea of ‘translational research’, committed to transform its research results into direct impact on the ground, meaning contributing to a concrete improvement of human rights in societies. In this spirit, the team aims at using its expertise and the experience in investigating, monitoring and reporting human rights violations to provide evidence-based and targeted advice as well as support to torture prevention actors. In the past, the team has supported State actors, notably National Human Rights Institutions (NHRI), as well as civil society actors in inter alia Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, FYROM, Moldova, Pakistan, Paraguay, Romania, Togo, Turkey, Uruguay and is currently engaged in Kyrgyzstan, Morocco and across Europe. Thereby, the team has not only gathered broad substantive but also methodological experiences on organisational development and how to conduct effective consulting and training.

Atlas of Torture: An Information and Cooperation Platform to Fight Torture and Ill-Treatment World-wide

Despite their universal and absolute prohibition, torture and other forms of ill-treatment remain a “global crisis” affecting the majority of States worldwide. At the same time, there is a lack of awareness about the problem. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture stated that we live in a time of “collective amnesia” where official narratives and public beliefs trivialise and even endorse torture in the name of security and the fight against terrorism, forgetting the suffering and damages it causes.

Numerous international and domestic actors are engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment through monitoring, research, advocacy, technical assistance, etc. However, there is insufficient access to information on the problem. Good practices and guidelines on prevention are not only inadequately documented, but also receive limited exposure. What is more, information about prevention work remain dispersed across several different sources and inadequately documented.

Moreover, the lack of coordination among the different actors lead to frequent duplications and missing synergies. The potential of internet-based technologies to strengthen the exchange and cooperation as well as providing effective support and learning opportunities needs to be explored further.

For these reasons, the Atlas of Torture website aims to empower organisations and individuals and strengthening the global fight against torture and ill-treatment. It will do so by:

  • Raising awareness on the problem by highlighting how torture and ill-treatment can be prevented through documentation, learning and exchange
  • Ensuring easy access to information
  • Making the work of actors engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment more visible
  • Strengthening exchange and cooperation

Ultimately, the website will thus provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for researchers and practitioners to easily and freely access up-to-date information and strategies for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

Our Crowdfunding campaign has been successfully concluded!

Crowdfunding Kampagne

A big THANKS to all of you for your incredible support! Not only did we reach our funding goal but also we exceeded it.

Thanks also to our testimonials for sharing their words and ideas on the importance of a global cooperation platform; our partners HURIDOCS & LBG Open Innovation in Science Center, our Institute and anyone who contributed to our campaign.

Without all of you, we could not have made it!

Now, the work continues to bring the new Atlas of Torture to life.

Handbook: Dignity at Trial


Persons with intellectual and psychosocial disabilities are among the most vulnerable groups of suspects in criminal proceedings. If they come into conflict with the law, they face a particularly high risk of not experiencing a fair trial. In many cases, their vulnerability due to their illness or disability is not identified in due time or not considered. Their procedural rights, particularly their right to information, their right to access a lawyer, and their right to medical assistance, in particular during deprivation of liberty, are often not adequately ensured.

The Handbook “Dignity at Trial”, which was elaborated during a two year pilot research project (2016-2018) assessing the implementation of the EC Recommendation on safeguards for vulnerable persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings (2013/C 378/02) draws on broader involvement of professional stakeholders and persons with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities who have undergone criminal proceedings.

Atlas of Torture - a global cooperation platform on torture and ill-treatment

Atlas of Torture

On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights highlights the need to improve access to information and strengthen cooperation to advance the fight against torture by launching a beta version of the Atlas of Torture.

The website launch is part of a large crowdfunding campaign. We need to raise 50,000€ until 13 July. Please support us to bring the Atlas of Torture to life!

Support via Startnext:

Atlas of Torture: Crowdfunding Campaign

Manfred Nowak (BIM)

The Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) – together with the LBG 'Open Innovation in Science Centre’  – has launched a crowdfunding campaign to establish the Atlas of Torture - a website to advance together the global fight against torture and ill-treatment.

In order to be successful, we need your support! In 30 days we need to raise at least 50,000 EUR in order to establish a global cooperation platform aimed at raising awareness, collecting information and empowering people worldwide.

Strengthening the rights of persons suspected or accused in criminal proceedings – the role of National Human Rights Institutions

Since 2009, the European Union (EU) has adopted a series of key measures on the rights of suspect and accused in criminal proceedings, such as on the right to information, the right to interpretation and translation, the right to access to a lawyer, the right to legal aid, the presumption of innocence and the right to be present at the trial, as well as safeguards for vulnerable persons suspected or accused.

3rd meeting of experts and stakeholders on European Union Fundamental Rights Information System (EFRIS)

From 22 to 23 March 2018, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) will host its third expert meeting on developing an online tool on EU Member States’ compliance with international human rights law and fundamental rights. Moritz Birk (BIM) will attend to the panel.

European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Schwarzenbergplatz 11, 1040 Vienna, Austria