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Gathering of evidence

The medical evidence will be used in combination with the other types of evidence mentioned above. Detailed guidelines on gathering medical evidence, including the interviewing of alleged victims, physical and psychological examinations, and writing medical reports, are addressed in the following Modules.

Health professionals engaged in the documentation and investigation of torture ought also, however, to be aware of certain non-medical aspects of evidence gathering. In ideal circumstances, there will be a number of people responsible for collection of evidence, and other members of the team, particularly the lawyers or NGO professionals, will coordinate the collection and ensure that all requisite details have been gathered. However, in some circumstances not all members of the team will have access to the alleged victim, and it is therefore crucial that each member is aware of the necessary details essential for the substantiation of alleged abuse. In other circumstances, health professionals may participate in human rights investigations and monitoring. The level of proof and detail may vary depending on the purpose of documentation: for example, a criminal trial requires higher standards of proof than a civil hearing or administrative procedures determining potential risk in case of deportation. If the health professional is the only person with access to the alleged victim or other source of information, it is vital that he or she attempts to collect, or ensures that others collect, key information, beyond the purely medical evidence.