Survivors' Stories

Patson Muzuwa
Zimbabwean

I was electrifed, put in a drum of cold water and beaten under the foot uncountable times.

Read more of Patson's story

How to Document Torture

The documentation of torture serves a number of purposes. As stated in the Principles on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (1), these purposes include:

States have an obligation to document acts of torture and to investigate with a view to prosecuting those responsible. However, they often fail to independently and consistently do so. In such cases, there may be local civil society groups or human rights organisations that are collecting such data - they may use this information to draw attention to a particular situation or to advocate for reforms; to ensure that survivors have access to appropriate rehabilitative treatment; to ensure that there is an independent record of what occurred; or possibly to bring legal or administrative challenges in local, regional or international courts.

How do you document allegations of torture?

There are a number of excellent sources of information on the standards and procedures for documentation of torture. These should be reviewed in detail:

The above sources have consistently referred to the following:

Challenges with documenting torture:


  1. The set of principles was included in the United Nations General Assembly resolution 55/89 4 December 2000 (Annex)

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