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The BBC's James Robbins
"The book even contains diagrams of the human body to mark with wounds"
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Tuesday, 28 March, 2000, 23:25 GMT 00:25 UK
Handbook for torture victims
Robin Cook
Cook: Torture remains depressingly widespread
Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is launching a book designed to help torture victims bring their attackers to justice.

The Torture Reporting Handbook tells victims and human rights groups how to collect evidence in a form most likely to be admissible in court.

Mr Cook, who pledged to bring an ethical dimension to his job as foreign secretary, said he hoped the book would result in more convictions.

It is vital that we do all in our power to tackle the appalling practice of torture, which remains depressingly widespread even in the modern world

Robin Cook
"I am determined that the Foreign Office should match its commitment to an enhanced human rights policy with practical assistance," said Mr Cook.

"It is vital that we do all in our power to tackle the appalling practice of torture, which remains depressingly widespread even in the modern world."

The book, written by Camille Giffard of Essex University, has been praised by campaign groups.

Amnesty International, which is investigating torture and ill-treatment in 120 countries, said the handbook was a "positive development" in the campaign against torture.


"The value of this book for human rights organisations working on the ground will be very significant," said Eric Sottas, director of the World Organisation Against Torture.

"Improvements in the presentation and targeting of information on torture could be quite literally life-saving."

And the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture praised the book for its practical approach.

Torture victim
Many torture victims never see their attackers punished
"The handbook gives the human rights activist on the ground a practical guide to general principles and specific principles for documenting torture," said director Sherman Caroll.

"The attention to detail, like working with interpreters, within the context of informed consent, professional ethics and security makes the handbook a first-rate tool."

The handbook, which cost 150,000 to produce, is designed for use by human rights groups, victim support organisations, doctors, lawyers and the families of the victims themselves.

It will be translated into French, Spanish, Russian and Arabic and will be distributed by British embassies around the world.

Mr Cook is launching the book in London with UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Sir Nigel Rodley.

The book will be launched internationally at the UN Commission for Human Rights in Geneva next month.

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