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Official Complaints to Human Rights Bodies and Other Organizations

Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment can be presented to a variety of human rights bodies. Many countries have a human rights ombudsman or a commission which might receive and investigate complaints. This might also be a body with a specific mandate on treatment of prisoners. Additionally, there are numerous regional and international human rights mechanisms which can also, under certain circumstances, receive allegations. These include the UN Committee Against Torture, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, the European Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and others (see the Torture Reporting Handbook, section 8.2).

In situations where the ICRC is active, the humanitarian organization can, under specific circumstances, receive allegations of arrest and detention of individuals and make direct enquiries of their whereabouts with the authorities and during visits to places of detention. If located, the ICRC is often able to put the detainee in contatct with their family through a system of Red Cross Messages.