According to the Istanbul Protocol, the broad purpose of the medical evaluation is to establish the facts related to alleged incidents of torture (IP, §120). The purpose of the written or oral testimony of the physician is to provide expert opinion on the degree to which medical findings correlate with the patient’s allegation of abuse and to communicate effectively the physician’s medical findings and interpretations to the judiciary or other appropriate authorities. In addition, medical testimony often serves to educate the judiciary, other government officials and the local and international communities on the physical and psychological sequelae of torture. The examiner should be prepared to do the following (IP, §121):
- Assess possible injury and abuse, even in the absence of specific allegations by individuals, law enforcement or judicial officials;
- Document physical and psychological evidence of injury and abuse;
- Correlate the degree of consistency between examination findings and specific allegations of abuse by the patient;
- Correlate the degree of consistency between individual examination findings with the knowledge of torture methods used in a particular region and their common after-effects;
- Render expert interpretation of the findings of medico-legal evaluations and provide expert opinion regarding possible causes of abuse in asylum hearings, criminal trials and civil proceedings;
- Use information obtained in an appropriate manner to enhance fact-finding and further documentation of torture.