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State Security, Torture and the Law

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  • UserDr. Onder Ozkalipci (Medical Expert), Dr. Carla Ferstman (REDRESS) and Dr. Lutz Oette (SOAS)
  • ClockThursday 02 March 2017, 17:00-18:30
  • HouseMill Lane Lecture Room 4.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Nikta Daijavad.

The attacks of 9/11 served as the trigger that turned security into a priority paradigm in both international relations and domestic policies. This development has constituted an extremely challenging test for the international human rights system. Notwithstanding the absolute nature of the prohibition of torture, states, academics and commentators increasingly argued that there should be exceptions where torture is permitted so as to fight terrorism more effectively. These arguments have been largely rebuffed at the judicial level but it is clear that the prohibition of torture has suffered in the process. One of the latest examples is Turkey, where, following the failed coup attempt in the summer of 2016, the Turkish government removed several crucial safeguards protecting detainees from the threat of torture. In a world where strong men are in the ascendancy and where national security is readily assumed to trump other considerations, those at risk of torture, torture survivors and anti-torture advocates have a daily fight on their hands to ensure the right both to be free from torture and to justice for having been subjected to torture. Dr. Onder Ozkalipci, Dr. Carla Ferstman and Dr. Lutz Oette will against this background be discussing challenges to the absolute prohibition of torture, the importance of the documentation of torture and the struggle against torture in Turkey, and experiences in the litigation of torture cases, drawing on their extensive work in the field. Dr. Ozkalipci is a medical expert and veteran human rights defenders who has treated hundreds of victims of torture. He played a leading role in the adoption of the Istanbul Protocol, a pivotal manual on the documentation and investigation of torture, and has worked on the issue of torture with bodies and organisations such as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims. Dr. Ferstman is the director of REDRESS (, an international human rights organisation seeking justice for torture survivors, which has been instrumental in promoting the right to reparation for torture survivors and in litigating torture cases before national, regional and international courts and bodies. Dr. Oette is a senior lecturer in law at SOAS , University of London, who has worked in the field of, and published widely on, the prohibition of torture. He is the co-author, together with Ilias Bantekas, of International human rights law and practice (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2016). The event will take place on Thursday, 2 March, at 5:00pm in Mill Lane Lecture Room 4. Admission is free, but please reserve a spot beforehand at the following link:

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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