Medical evaluations of torture allegations should be conducted at a location that the clinician deems most suitable. The clinician should ensure that the interviewee, particularly if the interviewee is a detainee, is not forced into accepting a place which is not comfortable and safe. In many situations it is not possible to control the environment of the interview (for example in police stations and prisons), and the interviewer will have to make the best of less than ideal conditions. However, the basic principles on interviewing should be adapted and applied as far as possible to the different contexts. The clinician should make sure to explore all opportunities to establish a setting which is as private, safe and comfortable as possible. Attention should be paid to arrange the room in a way that it is not reminiscent of an official surrounding and the process of interrogation.
Sufficient time should be allotted for the interview and arranged in advance. A twoto-four hour interview may be insufficient to conduct an evaluation for physical or psychological evidence of torture. A second, and possibly a third, interview may be needed to be scheduled to complete the evaluation. If the evaluation is taking place under time constraints, the information gathered and the outcome of the interview might be limited. Such constraints and limitations should be noted in a medical evaluation.
- The room should have appropriate physical conditions (light, ventilation, size, temperature).
- There should be access to toilet facilities and refreshment opportunities. It would be good to have water and tissues within the reach of the interviewee.
- The seating should allow the interviewer and interviewee to be equally comfortable and at an appropriate distance, to establish eye contact, and see each others’ faces clearly.