NEWS AND BACKGROUND

28th November 2016: Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer e.V. (Berlin Centre for Torture Victims) rebranded into a charitable Ltd

Since 21 September 2016 the departments of the Behandlungszentrum für Folteropfer e.V. (bzfo e.V. – Treatment Centre for Torture) including the Zentrum für Flüchtlingshilfen und Migration (Centre for Refugee and Migration Services) operate under the name of Zentrum ÜBERLEBEN gGmbH.

>>> Press Release

10th June 2016: Amnesty International Report on "Living in Insecurity – How Germany is Failing Victims of Racist Violence"

The Amnesty International Report is dealing with racist violence in Germany, and the state's fail at dealing with it properly. It also rises questions of institutional racism of german authorities. The 'NSU'-murders as well as the attacks on asylum shelters and refugees are being covered.
>>> Read the Report

2nd June 2016: Great Honor: Federal President Joachim Gauck spends time with people in the bzfo

The Federal President of Germany and Daniela Schadt visited the bzfo. They talked to severely traumatized women, young trainees, and staff members. Federal President Gauck was impressed by the diverse program of the bzfo – not only does it offer psychological support, but it supplies support in all circumstances.

1st June 2016: New offer on the premises of the bzfo – German Red Cross Berlin opens fourth migration consulting agency

On the 1st of June 2016 the Berlin state association of the German Red Cross opened its fourth migration consulting agency on the premises of the Berlin Center for Torture Victims (bzfo). The migration consulting for adult migrants (MBE) is a federal funded program. It gives socio-pedagogical support during the integration process for people with prospects of remaining in Germany.

18th May 2016: Governing mayor Müller at the bzfo

On the 17th of May Berlin’s governing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) visited the Berlin Center for Torture Victims (bzfo). CEO Dr. Mercedes Hillen and the mayor talked about the psychosocial and psychotherapeutic support, as well as the integration support for traumatized refugees in Berlin. Müller stated: “With its activity the bzfo contributes to the integration of refugees. The center can deal with their, to some extent, horrendous experiences, and give them concrete support. The bzfo’s work is crucial and valueable.”

9th February 2016: Not everyone is traumatized – but every traumatized refugee needs support

The Chamber of Psychotherapists (PtK) Berlin demands that psychotherapeutical treatment is integrated into asylum regulations. In a press release the PtK states the funding for psychosocial support is not based on the needs of refugees, but on their legal status in Germany. With a secure residence status, the payment for an interpreter during the treatment is not covered. Further critisism includes that professional psychological assessments on health risks are not considered in the event of deportation. The bzfo affiliates to the criticism.

3rd February 2016: German Federal Cabinet decides on Asylpaket II

This morning the German Federal Cabinet has decided on tougher asylum laws. Key issues are faster asylum procedures for persons from so called safe countries of origin, and the declaration of North African states as safe countries of origin. Furthermore family reunification for refugees with subsidiary protection will be suspended for two years, and obstacles to deportation will be reduced. Many patients/clients of the bzfo are suffering from a posttraumatic stress disorder. This illness will no longer necessarily be an obstacle for deportation. Attestations and reports from expert psychologists will no longer be taken into consideration as an obstacle to deportation. Only qualified medical certificates by medical doctors shall be relevant. The Berlin Center for Torture Victims (bzfo) criticizes the new regulations.

20th January 2016: Ramona Pop, Parliamentary party leader of the Green Party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen at bzfo

"During a visit to the Berlin Centre of Torture Victims (bzfo) I was able to see in person what an important contribution the Centre makes especially regarding the treatment of newly arriving refugees. Many of them are severely traumatized by the experience of fear and violence and need medical help. With its program for the short-term treatment here at bzfo people receive rapid help in an unbureaucratic way. But the limits of capacity have been reached. It is thus important to increase the number of short-term treatment units as soon as possible. Because high-quality assistance is central to give highly traumatized persons a perspective of a descent life“, says Ramona Pop. During her tour to the bzfo she talked to the Executive Director and Medical Director Dr. Mercedes Hillen, to the Director of the Day Clinic at bzfo, Dr. Ferdinand Haenel and others.

20th January 2016: STOP ASYLUM PACKAGE II! bzfo and other organizations call for fair asylum procedures

With the latest Asylum Package, the German Government aims to deport even more people more rapidly – even if they are seriously physically or mentally ill and a deportation can be life-threatening. The umbrella organization of the Psychosocial Centres for Refugees and Torture Victims (BAfF), The Berlin Centre of Torture Victims (bzfo), Pro Asyl and other organisations demand to stop these extreme restrictions. >>> Read more

3rd December 2015: Sensational success – 17th art auction proceeds amount to 158.400 Euros

On the first Sunday of Advent around 300 art lovers purchased art works for the benefit of traumatized refugees. The welcome speech in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Berlin was held by the longstandig former member oft he advisory board, Werner Gegenbauer. With his well-known humor, charm and his appreciated expertise Prof. Dr. Peter Raue was putting the art works under the hammer for large amounts.

15th October 2015: Inhumane situation at LaGeSo in Berlin

The bzfo criticizes the situation at the Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales (LaGeSo) in Berlin for months now. The center can not rule out a re-traumatization of already traumatized refugees, resulting from inadequate supply of medical care, waiting areas, as well as long waiting hours and the poor process of applications for asylum. The non-transparency of asylum procedures makes the situation for refugees even harder. Will there be any improvement of the circumstances by the new reception center at Bundesallee?

16th September 2015: The Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists (BPtK) calls for the improvement of the treatment of traumatized refugees by:

  • qualified surveyors in the social services departments
  • empowerment of refugee centers
  • financing of interpreting services

August 2015: Article by Deutsche Welle: bzfo documents violence on EU outer borders

The number of violent incidences at the outer borders of the European Union are on the rise. Refugees report beatings, kicking and even electric shocks. >>> Read more on the website of Deutsche Welle...

July 2015: bzfo patients report systematic use of violence at the European borders

Following reports of violence against refugees by border agents and police officers in several countries, the bzfo calls for improved monitoring to prevent re-traumatization caused by violent treatment. >>> Read more about this and other topics in our press release...

June 2015: 60 million people forced to flee worldwide – UNHCR releases new refugee numbers

Nearly 60 million refugees are forced to leave their homes worldwide. The UNHCR has released this number today in its annual report "global trends". It is the highest number of worldwide displacement by war and persecution ever to be recorded by the UN Refugee Agency. Between 2013 and 2014 the escalation of the number of refugees in a year was the highest recorded so far. >>> Read the annual report and more about the urgency of the situation here...

June 2015: MIPEX study shows Germany's integration policies are further improving

Germany has further risen in the ranking of the "Migrant Integration Policy Index", showing that Germany's more common self-image as an emigration country leads to improvements for migrants. Especially on the labor market and in the naturalization process the country has made progress. However, experts criticize the inadequate registration of crimes with a racist background and inequality in education. >>> The results of the study can be found here...

February 2015: bzfo psychotherapist receives honor of Federal Cross of Merit

Salah Ahmad, longterm psychotherapist at the bzfo and head of the bzfo partner organization Jiyan Foundation in Northern Iraq, will be awarded the Federal Cross of Merit on February 26.

October 2014: IRCT Country Factsheets

>>> Read more...

August 2014: Deutsche Welle broadcasting report about Ilajnafsy program

>>> Listen to the podcast here...

July 2014: bzfo and Jiyan Foundation assist Internally Displaced Persons in Nothern Iraq

>>> Read the press release here...

June 2014: bzfo under the patronage of Claudia Roth

Claudia Roth, vice president of the German Bundestag, is the new patroness of the bzfo. As a long term activist for human rights and refugees, Claudia Roth is closely involved in the work of the bzfo and its partner organisation Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights.

June 2014: 26th – UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture

>>> Read the official United Nations statement here...

May 2014: bzfo at Amnesty press conference

>>> Amnesty's new campaign "Stop Torture!"

February 2014: "No one is safe"

The Abuse of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System. Human Rights Watch-Report, Feb. 2014...
>>> See also "Is rape inevitable in war?" on aljazeera.com

26th June 2013: United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture – Improving the housing situation of most vulnerable refugees

On the occasion of the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture the bzfo issued a press release demanding an improvement of the housing situation of most vulnerable refugees in Berlin. 
As Dr. Mercedes Hillen, CEO and Medical Director declares: "With the ongoing civil war in Syria it becomes more and more obvious: torture is an every day reality despite the ratification of the far-reaching Convention against Torure decades ago. Many refugees who fled to Germany experienced unbearable, inhumane atrocities in their home countries or on their escape routes. People from Chechnya, Turkey as well as more recently Syria find psychotherapeutic help in the bzfo. Although Berlin has great difficulty in finding refugee shelters lately, victims of torture and other cruel forms of violence need a safe place of refuge. In our experience, vulnerable refugees as the now arriving Syrians urgently need a stable social environment alongside therapeutic measures. Therefore we desperately need accommodation in Berlin that meets the hygienic standards to give refugees a suitable retreat. The Federal Government and the State of Berlin should consider programs to improve the housing situation of vulnerable persons – as without, those affected can hardly be helped from a therapeutic point of view."

June 2013: Syrian refugees in Iraq

Since the beginning of the Syrian insurrection in March 2011 more than 1.6 million Syrians have had to flee their country and homelands and leave for the neighboring countries. More than 150,000 of the displaced have sought refuge in northern Iraq. Many of the refugees have experienced traumatizing events, such as losing relatives to bomb-attacks, witnessing combat situations or being detained or tortured on account of their political allegiances. With the support of Misereor and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Kirkuk Center supports traumatized Syrian refugees in Iraq. Survivors are provided with free medical as well as psycho-social support in our centers in Duhok and Sulaymaniyah. >>> Read more

19th June 2013:
 German Medical Association declares solidarity with Turkish doctors

„The inappropriate police deployment in Istanbul and other Turkish cities alarms many doctors in Germany. Especially the procedure of the police force to deprive injured protestants of medical aid and arrest doctors who help injured protestants is completely unacceptable“ says the president of the German Medical Association (Bundesärztekammer), Prof. Dr. Frank Ulrich Montgomery.
Montgomery declares full solidarity of the German medical profession with the Turkish Medical Association „Türk Tabipleri Birliǧi“ and its president Dr. Eriº Bilaloǧlu. Furthermore Montgomery condemns the police action as a serious violation of the international principal of medical neutrality which is set in the Geneva Convention. According to their professional standards, doctors are committed to their patients and cannot be persecuted for pursuing their profession.
The disproportionate police deployment induced the Turkish medical profession to approach the World Medical Association (WMA). The president of the WMA called upon the Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoǧan to stop the unreasonably excessive violence against peaceful protesters and to enforce the fundamental rights of freedom of speech and assembly. Furthermore, the WMA demands an independent commission to be established by the Turkish government that examines the immense amount of violence applied against the protesters.
>>> Press Release of the WMA

18th June 2013:
 Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV) asks for international support

With her urgent action call Şebnem Korur Fincancı, President of the foundation, asks the special rapporteurs on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, on the situation of human rights defenders, as well as the members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture for support to request from the Turkish government to end the ongoing breach and violation of human rights. TIHV is a  long-time cooperation partner of the bzfo.
>>> www.tihv.org.tr  
>>> Urgent Action Call of HRFT
>>> E-mail campaign „Turkey: End Abuse and Reveal Extent of Injuries" by Amnesty International

11th June 2013:
 New Website by Anti-Torture Initiative (AIT)

The ATI is a project of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Mendez, and the American University Washington College of Law Center for Human Rights Humanitarian Law. Via this website they intend to expand the strategies used to support, monitor, and assess the implementation of the mandate’s thematic and country-specific recommendations, and to develop effective follow-up procedures to help eradicate torture around the world. As part of this project, the ATI’s website provides a dynamic platform for outreach and advocacy, and serves as a comprehensive resource and research tool. It contains a searchable database of resources related to the work of the Special Rapporteur, including all thematic, country visit, and observations reports, as well as news updates, press releases, interviews, conferences, hearings, op-eds, and other media coverage. Additionally, the ATI will be launching Facebook and Twitter accounts to create a broader network of advocates working in the field.  The website and social media efforts are key components of a new coordinated outreach strategy which the Special Rapporteur is undertaking with the ATI to truly globalize access and resources to anti-torture work. This website is intended to complement the dissemination of the work of the Rapporteurship that is done through the site of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The upcoming thematic report to the 68th session of the General Assembly focusing on the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (SMRs) will be published on their website  www.antitorture.org.