On February 8, 1996 the NGO RCT/EMPATHY (The Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture”) was established by young doctor’s fighting against Soviet and Post – Soviet regimes in Georgia in coordination with founder of IRCT Dr. Inge Genefke (She started whole torture victims rehabilitation movement worldwide). The RCT/EMPATHY is only NGO in the region of Caucasus that provides holistic services for victims of torture, violence and pronounced stress impact that includes: Medical, Mental/Psychological, Social, Forensic and Legal Aid. The RCT/EMPATHY also provides capacity building training/educational programmes on Holistic Rehabilitation and Documentation of Torture according to the Istanbul Protocol for health professionals, legal experts and human rights defenders from region of Caucasus and Central Asia; The RCT/EMPATHY is the first Centre that started rehabilitation and torture documentation programmes in prisons since 1999 and initiated healthcare reform in Penal System of Georgia. Main target groups are: IDPs, other war affected population and victims of war crimes, refugees, asylums, other status holders and human rights activists from Georgia, including military and para military regions, as well as from other Countries. In year 1998 the RCT/EMPATHY elaborated holistic rehabilitation conception for prisoners and former prisoners of Georgia and started implementation.
The agency also started numerous research programmes related to the outcomes of torture and war crimes, new development on this issue is the innovative study on Stockholm – Like syndrome in Post-Soviet War affected Countries and reflection of hybrid war on social – political developments in the war affected Countries, as well as results of strategies of “brain washing” and “Disinformation” widely used in Georgia and in another post-soviet countries for decreasing of authority of an independent Civil Society agencies. The RCT/EMPATHY is only torture victims’ rehabilitation Centre in the region that by the reason of documentation of cases of torture several times were attacked from various state officials and associates using different methods, among them creation of parallel Centre with duplication of programmes and activities, by dissemination of fake information and disinformation against the NGO, creating non – friendly environment and pressure aiming to destroy the Centre and to create problems in fundraising that unfortunately continues up today. In year 2018 the Centre won the case in European Court of Human Rights on Violation of the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights related to the violation of rights of an independent expert, documenting torture. The RCT/EMPATHY leads more than 25 cases of Russian – Georgian War submitted in the ECtHR against Russian Federation and more than 120 cases submitted to the International Criminal Court that opened investigation on Russian – Georgian War 2008 on January 2016, has more than 10 cases won in the ECtHR regarding torture and ill treatment of prisoners. In year 2018 the RCT/EMPATHY 10 experts wrote the comprehensive forensic affidavit on Case of A.T. tortured and killed on the occupied region of South Ossetia and together with legal application submitted to the ECtHR against Russian Federation. First time in Georgia the UN Istanbul Protocol and UN Minnesota Protocol jointly were used for documentation of this widely known case of torture and unlawful death.
Today on the 23th Anniversary of the RCT/EMPATHY we would like to express our acknowledgment to all staff and experts involved in the RCT/EMPATHY’s valuable and difficult work to combat torture and impunity and urge agencies working in the human rights field to pay more attention to the torture victims rehabilitation movement worldwide.