SCOTLAND: POSITIVE RESPONSE ON ISTANBUL PROTOCOL APPLICATION
There has been a positive response from the Scottish Government Justice Minister to the Celtic League query about the application of the UN Istanbul Protocol.
The Protocol (full title – The Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) contains internationally recognised standards and procedures on how to recognise and document symptoms of torture so the documentation may serve as valid evidence in court.
The League queried administrations in the United Kingdom and Isle of Man about the Protocol following criticisms of the Irish Government by the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) for failing to provide training to appropriate personnel on its application.
So far the League have had a fairly negative response from the administration in N. Ireland. However the latest reply from the Office of Scottish Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill, is much more positive and whilst accepting that specific training is not currently provided it concludes:
“We do nonetheless recognise that the nature of work undertaken by specific groups of medical professionals means they may wish to seek specific CPD training on the Istanbul protocol, and NHS Education for Scotland would be prepared to consider arranging an event on it should there be sufficient demand.”
The Celtic League will be writing to the CAT to outline the results of our survey following receipt of responses from the administrations in England and Wales and the Isle of Man – which are still awaited.
The full text of the Scottish Government response is set out below:
“Our ref: 201 1/101 5372
23 August 2011
Dear Mr Moffatt
I am writing in reply to your letter of 17 July to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill about training in Scotland in respect of torture and ill treatment of detailed persons. My holding reply of 2 August also refers.
I have contacted a number of agencies in Scotland seeking information on the issue of the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment – the so-called Istanbul Protocol. I have also seen the report by the UN Committee AgainstTorture on Ireland.
The Istanbul Protocol aims to provide useful guidelines to doctors and lawyers wishing to investigate possible cases of torture and similar treatment. It is not, however, a mandatory or binding document.
The Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (ACPOS), on behalf of the Scottish Police College inform me that no specific training is delivered on the Protocol, either to police officers or to police medical staff. However, police officers do receive training on issues pertaining to the European Convention on Human Rights. This features as a thread through many inputs but is specifically
covered in training on human rights legislation; prisoner rights, care and welfare; officer safety training; and public order.
The Scottish Terrorist Detention Centre in currently running a series of training courses based around the Terrorism Act 200 and Guidelines issued by the Lord Advocate – Detention Treatment and Questioning by Police Officers of
persons arrested …
In terms of medical training, the content of the medical curriculum at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels is a matter for the General Medical Council (GMC) as regulator of the medical professions and is, in general, designed to provide all doctors with the core skills sets and learning experiences they are most likely to encounter in their day-to-day practice. It is recognised that medical practice is continuously evolving, and all doctors are required by their regulator to maintain their fitness to practice through
continuous professional development (CPD). While the medical curriculum does not specifically encompass the Istanbul Protocol, many aspects within it relate to recognising and responding to victims of violence and abuse, the need for doctors to respond sensitively and appropriately where they recognise vulnerabilities, and how to report these.
In addition, there are many positive and well received examples where the Scottish Government has funded and delivered training and development activities for health and social care professionals, such as on domestic violence, sexual
abuse, and on adults at risk of harm that, collectively, have raised awareness and improved practice. As such, we consider medical practitioners can already access educational opportunities to upskill in order to respond to victims’
needs. We do nonetheless recognise that the nature of work undertaken by specific groups of medical professionals means they may wish to seek specific CPD training on the Istanbul protocol, and NHS Education for Scotland would be prepared to consider arranging an event on it should there be sufficient demand.
I hope that this information is of interest.
St Andrew’s House, Regent Road, Edinburgh EH1 3DG”
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J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues.
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