Clinicians must ensure that informed consent is based on adequate disclosure and understanding of the potential benefits and adverse consequences of a medical evaluation and that consent is given voluntarily without coercion by others, particularly law enforcement or judicial authorities. The interviewee has the right to refuse the evaluation. In such circumstances, the clinician should document the reason for refusal of an evaluation. According to the Istanbul Protocol:
Medical experts involved in the investigation of torture or ill-treatment shall behave at all times in conformity with the highest ethical standards and, in particular, shall obtain informed consent before any examination is undertaken.— (Istanbul Principle 6(a))
From the outset, the alleged victim should be informed of: the nature of the process, why his/her evidence is being sought, how the information given by the person would be used and possible consequences.
As stated in Module 2, Informed consent requires that the consenting individual:
- Is mentally competent
- Receives full disclosure of information, including risks, benefits, and clarification of the limits of confidentiality that may be imposed by State or judicial authorities.
- Understands the information provided
- Gives his/her consent voluntarily
- Provides authorisation for his/her consent