Investigating and Documenting Torture: Theoretical Approach to the Istanbul Protocol

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Offer training on national and international, juridical and medical forensic aspects relevant to addressing and preventing torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Strengthen the capacity of legal and medical professionals working on the identification, documentation and effective investigation of torture, based on the Istanbul Protocol (the United Nations Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment).


Guest Audience:

  • Legal Professionals: judges, prosecutors and public defenders working in cases with indication of torture, particularly professional working on the execution of criminal sentences and socio-educational measures, arraignment hearings, and units specialised in human rights and oversight of detention facilities.
  • Medical Forensics Professionals:medical examiners and forensics experts working on Institutes of Legal Medicine.


Dates and Location:

  • Rio de Janeiro, RJ: 16th and 17th May 2018.
  • o   Venue: FESUDEPERJ – Fundação Escola Superior da Defensoria Pública do Estado do Rio de Janeiro. Av. Marechal Câmara, 314 – Centro. Rio de Janeiro, RJ. Brazil
  • o   Schedule: 08:30 to 18:00 (both days).
  • o   Public: Preferably professionals from Brazilian Southeast and Midwest states.
  • Florianópolis, SC: 21st and 22nd May 2018.
  • o   Venue: Academia Judicial – Centro de Estudos Jurídicos do Tribunal de Justiça de Santa Catarina (CEJUR/TJSC). Rua Álvaro Millen da Silveira, n. 208 – Centro –  Florianópolis, SC. Brazil
  • o   Schedule: 08:30 to 18:00 (both days).
  • o   Public: Preferably professionals from Brazilian South states.


Course Load:

  • 16 hours course



  • Torture in the International Law framework: norms, standards, and international case-law on torture;
  • Conceptual and practical issues concerning the implementation of the Istanbul Protocol (the United Nations Manual on Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment);
  • Essential elements for the identification and medical forensic documentation of physical and psychological aspects of torture;
  • Essential elements for the interpretation of torture in the context of investigation, interrogation and the request of forensic medical examinations;
  • Concrete cases on the practical application of the Istanbul Protocol.



I. Juan Méndez

Juan E. Méndez is a Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence at the American University Washington College of Law, where he is the Faculty Director of the Anti-Torture Initiative. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment between November 2010 and October 2016. In early 2017, Professor Méndez was elected Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Geneva, Switzerland. In February 2017, he was named a member of the Selection Committee to appoint magistrates to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace and members of the Truth Commission set up as part of the Colombian Peace Accords. A native of Argentina, Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defence of human rights, primarily in the Americas. His current field of practice is International Human Rights Law, with expertise in Transitional Justice, Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities, Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty, and the Right to Personal Integrity. Mr. Méndez is a member of the bar of Mar del Plata and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the District of Columbia, U.S., having earned a J.D. from Stella Maris Catholic University in Argentina and a certificate from the American University Washington College of Law.

II. Pau Pérez-Sales

Graduated in Medicine from the University of Barcelona, with specialization from Hospital La Paz, Madrid, and PhD in Psychiatry from the Autonomous University of Madrid. He currently directs the SiRa center (Madrid, Spain) for psycho-juridical attention to victims of violence and works as a consultant and collaborator to the United Nations (UN), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Spanish National Preventive Mechanism against Torture, as well as serving as chair of the Section for Consequences of Torture of the World Psychiatric Association and acting as editor of the journal “Torture”. He has extensive international experience, having advised governments and human rights organizations on mental health, human rights and transitional justice in Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru and Colombia, among others. Additionally, he has extensive teaching experience in institutions such as UCM, UNED and Autonomous University of Barcelona, working on mental health, political violence and disasters, as well as dissemination of conceptual and technical aspects of the Istanbul Protocol.

III. Marina Parras

Graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the Autonomous University of Madrid (UAM), specialised in Family and Community Medicine at the University Hospital of Getafe. She also holds a PhD in Preventive Medicine from UAM. She has additional training in emergency treatment, attention to polytrauma patients and the sequelae of mistreatment and torture. She has extensive clinical experience and is currently an assistant physician at the Emergency Department of Infanta Sofia Hospital in Madrid. She also has extensive experience as a teacher in matters related to the Istanbul Protocol, as well as being an expert in the documentation of torture in national and international courts. She has also developed a solid international portfolio, operating in Chile, Mexico and Ethiopia.

IV. Veronica Hinestroza

Senior lawyer at the International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), managing the organization's work in Latin America and East Timor. She has a degree in government and international relations, a master’s degree in Development Studies, and an LL.M. in International Human Rights Law by the University of Essex. For the last 14 years, she has worked in Human Rights projects in different organizations, including the International Centre for Transitional Justice, the International Criminal Court, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health and the Centre for Justice and International Law. These projects involved evaluations of projects related to justice system implementation by organizations such as the Norwegian Council for Refugees, UN Women and the OAS mission in support of the Colombian peace process. She has also been a professor and a transitional justice researcher at the University of Externado in Colombia, and has published papers in the areas of gender, development and human rights, child soldiers, international courts and reparations.

V. Vanessa Drummond

She is the assistant director of the Anti-Torture Initiative at the American University Washington College of Law, managing the Initiative's day-to-day operations and working with partners to develop and implement advocacy efforts to promote new international standards to prevent torture and ill-treatment. She supported the mandate of the former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, and served as a legal assistant to the Kovler Project against Torture, conducting research and identifying areas of non-compliance by States Parties to the UN Convention against Torture. She holds a Law degree from the American University Washington College of Law.

VI. Rita Lamy Freund

Attorney and International Relations Advisor for the Federal Public Defender's Office. She Graduated in Law from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) and holds a master’s in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex. She worked as a lawyer at the Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL / Brazil), advised REDRESS UK's International Legal Counsel and participated in Reprieve's "Life After Guantanamo" project. She Coordinated the “Clean Games Project” of the Ethos Institute in Rio de Janeiro and is currently the Support Coordinator for the Inter-American System of Human Rights of the Federal Public Defender's Office (DPU). She has given lectures and various trainings, including a workshop on the structure and procedures of the Inter-American Commission and Court of Human Rights offered to jurists from different non-governmental organizations, as well as undertaken the “Candidates’ commitment with human rights” initiative aimed at candidates to Rio de Janeiro’s State Government and Legislative body, and members of human rights organizations. She was the author of the article “The first case of slave labour tried by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights is Brazilian” published in the 8th edition of “Jornal Fórum DPU” and co-authored the article “Practical Effects of the decisions of the organs of the Inter-American System of Human Rights”, published in the book “Human Rights in Brazil 2005, Report of the Social Network on Justice and Human Rights”.

VII. Rafael Barreto Souza

Legal consultant for the International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) in Brazil. He is a lawyer and professor of Law at the Institute of Higher Education of Brasília (IESB). He has recently worked as an expert at the Brazilian National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (MNPCT). Rafael has also been a fellow at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and a consultant at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In addition to that, he is a researcher at the Criminal Policy Management Laboratory at the University of Brasília (LabGEPEN / UnB). He holds two master's degrees, one in Development Studies from the Institut de Hautes Études Internationales et du Développement (IHEID) in Geneva, Switzerland, and another in Constitutional Law from the Federal University of Ceará (UFC). He has been working for more than eight years on issues relating to torture prevention, public policy, juvenile justice and human rights in civil society organizations, federal bodies and international organizations.


Learn more about the organising institutions:

The International Bar Association (IBA), founded in 1947, is the leading world organization of legal professionals and bar associations. Through its membership, which is comprised of lawyers, law firms, bar and class associations from around the globe, IBA has a strong influence in the development and reform of International Law, shaping the future of the legal professions around the planet. IBA has its headquarters in London, UK. It also has regional offices in São Paulo, Brazil; Seoul, South Korea; and Washington, DC, in the United States. The IBA Program for the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC and ICL) is managed from its office in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The International Bar Association Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), an autonomous and financially independent entity, that works to promote, protect and enforce human rights under the aegis of a rule of law, preservation of the independence of the Judiciary and legal professions in the world.

The Anti-Torture Initiative (ATI) is a project of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Law of the Washington College of Law's (WCL) at American University. The ATI was created in 2011 with the goal of expanding the reach and practical implementation of the work of the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Professor of Human Rights Law in Residence at WCL, Juan E. Méndez. ATI has played a key role in supporting developing standards, providing technical assistance and capacity building, and promoting the implementation of reforms and best practices in different jurisdictions. During the mandate of the former Special Rapporteur from 2011 to November 2016, ATI worked vigorously to complement its activities, particularly in the areas of monitoring, implementation and dissemination. Since 2016, ATI has continued its mission to develop programmatic and country specific activities in key thematic areas such as solitary confinement, investigative interviewing, gender and torture, and the Istanbul Protocol.

The Brazilian National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (MNPCT in Portuguese) is an autonomous federal body established by Law n. 12.847/2013, as a part of the National System for Preventing and Combating Torture. It is composed of 11 experts, with the prerogative to carry out unannounced visits to all places of deprivation of liberty in the country, such as penal establishments, psychiatric hospitals, elderly homes, socio-educational units, and military detention centres. From these visits, the NPM prepares reports with recommendations to the competent authorities, promoting constructive dialogues aiming their implementation. Its creation was aa result of complying with the international commitment assumed by the Brazilian State in 2007 with the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT).