Statutes

Constitution

Preamble

I.
The Federal Republic of Germany has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture of 10 December 1984, Article 14 of which obliges every signatory state to create rehabilitation facilities for victims of torture. In November 1989 the German medical profession, represented by the German General Medical Council, signed the Madrid Declaration of the Plenary Assembly of the Standing Committee of Doctors of the European Community, which makes recommendations concerning responses to torture and human rights violations. In the Declaration the medical associations agree to support the treatment of torture victims.

II.
Especially in view of the legacy of modern German history, nationalism and racism must not be allowed to reemerge in Berlin and the future united Germany. Numerous victims of political persecution and torture from countries all over the world live in Berlin. Torture victims cannot be treated adequately by existing medical institutions and social services. Special institutions are required to offer victims medical and psychosocial care without regard to their ethnic origins, religion or ideology, and to assist them on the difficult path back to a decent and dignified life. That task is the concern of the Society.

III.
The Society arose out of the ‘Centre for Torture Victims’ initiative supported by the Berlin Medical Council and prominent public figures. In its work the Society pursues exclusively humanitarian goals and is politically independent. It is the intention of the founding members that the Society later be transformed into a foundation pursuing the same aims.

§ 1
Name, Registered Office, Financial Year

(1) The name of the Society will be Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer (Berlin Centre for Torture Victims). It will be registered in the Register of Associations and after registration the name will be ‘Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer, e. V.’ [‘e. V.’ is the German abbreviation meaning ‘registered association’]

(2) The registered office of the Society is in Berlin.

(3) The Society’s financial year is the calendar year.

§ 2
Objects of the Society

(1) The Society will only follow directly charitable and benevolent purposes as defined in Paragraph 53, Item 1 of the Tax Code and described in the ‘Tax-privileged Purposes’ section of the respective valid version of the Tax Code.

(2) The objects of the Society will be in particular:

(a) Medical, psychological, psychotherapeutic and social care, treatment and rehabilitation of victims of persecution and their family members from countries where individuals are oppressed, imprisoned or tortured on political, ethnic or religious grounds, or suffer human rights violations.

(b) To create a Documentation Centre on human rights violations and the physical, psychological and emotional after-effects of torture and human rights violations.

(c) To inform the public, in cooperation with other institutions, about human rights violations, torture, and their consequences.

(d) To organize teaching and training on socio-medical aspects of human rights violations, torture and their consequences, and on the different methods of treatment for the rehabilitation of victims.

(e) Scientific research and documentation of the causes, consequences and treatment of traumatized individuals.

(f) Counseling, training, qualification and vocational integration of refugees and migrants.

(3) The Society is non-profitmaking; it does not in the first place pursue economic aims of its own.

(4) The Society’s means will be used only for purposes in accordance with its Constitution. Members will receive no benefits from the Society’s funds in their capacity as members. Nobody will be favoured by expenditures that are outside the objects of the Society, or by disproportionately high remunerations.

(5) The funds required for the purposes of the Society should be procured primarily through donations and public and private grants. The Society aims to find public and private institutions and individuals who are willing to provide the Society with long-term financial support.

§ 3
Membership

(1) Natural and legal persons who work actively to further the material objects of the Society and who identify with its aims may become members of the Society. Membership applications are made in writing and accepted or rejected by the Executive Committee, which is not required to give reasons for rejection.

(2) Membership of the Society can be terminated by giving the Executive Committee three months’ written notice to the end of the financial year.

(3) If there is a serious reason, a member may also be expelled from the Society by a two thirds majority of the General Meeting, after a hearing. The affected member must be informed of the expulsion application at least three weeks before the meeting. The expulsion is effective as soon as the vote has been taken.

(4) A member who is in arrears with three months’ membership fees, and has not settled the amounts in full within three months of the date of posting of a written reminder from the Executive Committee, may be struck off the list of members by decision of the Executive Committee. The reminder must be sent by registered post to the member’s last address known to the Society and must indicate the possibility of cancellation of membership. The other members must be informed immediately of the reminder.

§ 4
Executive Committee

(1) The Executive Committee of the Society consists of the Chair, the Secretary (Deputy Chair), the Treasurer and up to four other members.

(2) The Society is represented in and out of court by two members of the Executive Committee.

§ 5
Election of the Executive Committee and Term of Office

(1) The Executive Committee is elected by the General Meeting for a period of two years beginning from the date of the election. The old Executive Committee remains in office until a new Executive Committee has been elected. Executive Committee members are elected individually. Members of the Executive Committee must be members of the Society. The office of the Executive Committee member ends if he or she terminates his or her membership of the Society.

(2) If a member of the Executive Committee resigns prematurely, the Executive Committee may coopt a successor for the remaining term of office.

§ 6
Responsibilities of the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee will administer all the Society’s business except in cases where the Constitution places the responsibility on another organ of the Society. The Executive Committee is responsible in particular for control of all business and administration of the Society’s assets, including the following tasks:

(a) Preparing and calling the General Meeting and drawing up the agenda

(b) Executing decisions of the General Meeting

(c) Preparing the budget, accounting, and preparing the Annual Report.

§ 7
Meetings and Decisions of the Executive Committee

(1) Decisions of the Executive Committee are made in meetings called by the chair, or, if he or she is unable to do so, by the deputy chair.
The agenda need not be announced in advance. Meetings should be called at least one week in advance.

(2) The Executive Committee is quorate if at least three of its members are present. Decisions are made by a majority of valid votes. In the event of a tied vote, the Chair has the casting vote; if he or she is absent, the Deputy Chair. Abstentions are not counted as valid votes.

(3) If all its members agree to their use, the Executive Committee may make decisions using written procedures.

§ 8
General Meeting

(1) The General Meeting is the highest organ of the society. All members have the right to participate and vote. Any member is entitled to authorize in writing another member to exercise his or her right to vote; the authorization document must be given to the Executive Committee before the General Meeting.

(2) The General Meeting is responsible for the following matters:

(a) Approving the budget proposed by the Executive Committee for the next financial year; receiving the annual report; giving formal approval to the actions of the Executive Committee

(b) Electing and dismissing the members of the Executive Committee

(c) Expelling members

(d) Fixing membership fees

(e) Changing the Constitution

(f) Dissolving the Society

§ 9
Ordinary General Meeting

(1) The General Meeting is called by the Executive Committee once a year by a written invitation that includes the agenda and is sent at least one month beforehand. In case the meeting is inquorate, the invitation to the General Meeting may also include an invitation to a second General Meeting directly following the first.

(2) The place and time of the General Meeting are decided by the Executive Committee.

(3) Any member may apply to make additions to the agenda no later than one week before the Ordinary General Meeting. The person chairing the meeting must announce additions to the agenda at the beginning of the General Meeting.

§ 10
Extraordinary General Meeting

The Executive Committee must call an Extraordinary General Meeting if required by the interests of the Society or if at least one third of the members request this in writing, stating the purpose and reasons.

§ 11
Decisions of the General Meeting

(1) The General Meeting is quorate if at least half the members of the Society are represented. If the meeting is inquorate, a General Meeting called for the same day under Section § 9 Clause 1 Sentence 2 is quorate if at least one third of the members are represented. If this second General Meeting is also inquorate, the Executive Committee must within two weeks call a third General Meeting. It will be quorate regardless of the number of members represented, and this must be indicated in the invitation.

(2) The General Meeting makes decisions by simple majority of valid votes cast. Abstentions are not counted as valid votes. A two thirds majority of the valid votes is required to change the Constitution.

(3) The General Meeting is opened by the Executive Committee. The Chair of the Society chairs the General Meeting until it ends unless the General Meeting, by simple majority of votes cast, elects someone else to chair the meeting.

(4) Decisions of the General Meeting must be minuted. The minutes must be countersigned by the person chairing the General Meeting and by the respective minute-keeper.

§ 12
Advisory Board

(1) The Society has an Advisory Board composed of figures from public life, culture and science who are in a position to constructively promote the objects of the Society. The Advisory Board assists the Society in the following matters in particular:

(a) Communication with government agencies, other state bodies, and associations

(b) Medical matters

(c) Legal questions

(d) Publicity work

(e) Procuring funds to further the objects of the society

(2) The Executive Committee appoints the members of the Advisory Board. Members of the Society may put forward names for the Advisory Board.

(3) An Advisory Board member may resign his or her post without stating reasons by giving one month’s written notice to the Society. The Executive Committee must inform the other Advisory Board members of this immediately.
Any Advisory Board member may be dismissed by majority decision of the General Meeting if there is good cause.

§ 13
Dissolution of the Society

(1) The Society can only be dissolved by a two thirds majority of valid votes cast at a General Meeting.

(2) Unless the General Meeting decides otherwise, the Chair and Deputy Chair are the joint authorized liquidators of the Society.

(3) If the Society is dissolved or loses its tax-privileged purpose, its assets will pass to Amnesty International, Sektion Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V., which is to use them directly and exclusively for tax-privileged purposes.

(4) The above provisions will apply analogously if the Society is dissolved for other reasons or loses its legal capacity.