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Atlas of Torture: An Information and Cooperation Platform to Fight Torture and Ill-Treatment World-wide

Despite their universal and absolute prohibition, torture and other forms of ill-treatment remain a “global crisis” affecting the majority of States worldwide. At the same time, there is a lack of awareness about the problem. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture stated that we live in a time of “collective amnesia” where official narratives and public beliefs trivialise and even endorse torture in the name of security and the fight against terrorism, forgetting the suffering and damages it causes.

Numerous international and domestic actors are engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment through monitoring, research, advocacy, technical assistance, etc. However, there is insufficient access to information on the problem. Good practices and guidelines on prevention are not only inadequately documented, but also receive limited exposure. What is more, information about prevention work remain dispersed across several different sources and inadequately documented.

Moreover, the lack of coordination among the different actors lead to frequent duplications and missing synergies. The potential of internet-based technologies to strengthen the exchange and cooperation as well as providing effective support and learning opportunities needs to be explored further.

For these reasons, the Atlas of Torture website aims to empower organisations and individuals and strengthening the global fight against torture and ill-treatment. It will do so by:

  • Raising awareness on the problem by highlighting how torture and ill-treatment can be prevented through documentation, learning and exchange
  • Ensuring easy access to information
  • Making the work of actors engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment more visible
  • Strengthening exchange and cooperation

Ultimately, the website will thus provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for researchers and practitioners to easily and freely access up-to-date information and strategies for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

The Atlas of Torture is a project by the Human Dignity and Public Security Department in cooperation with HURIDOCS ( It is based on the long-standing expertise, experience and documentation of the Institute in the area of fighting against torture and ill-treatment and of HURIDOCS in supporting human rights organisations to use information and technology in the simplest and most efficient way.

To this end the website will consist of three core elements:

  1. The Database: The core element of the new Atlas of Torture will be a user-friendly database on the situation of torture and ill-treatment and how it can be prevented. It will allow users to search documents via various filters obtaining targeted search results. Moreover, possibilities to visualise the information through maps and graphs will be explored to enhance the accessibility and usability of the database.
  2. The Projects & Activities Map: The second element of the website will be a map of the relevant actors engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment as well as the work they do. This includes projects and activities such as conferences, workshops, lectures, speeches, country missions, etc. This will not only create greater visibility for the work of organisations and actors worldwide, but will also strengthen the coordination and cooperation among actors so as to reduce overlaps, create synergies and allow human rights advocates to build upon each other's work.
  3. The Learning & Exchange Platform: The “Learning & Exchange Platform” forms the third pillar of the website, enabling its users to learn and exchange about torture and ill-treatment. It will explore the use of innovative formats in order to raise awareness on the topic of torture and ill-treatment.

A beta version of the database was launched on 26 June 2018. The final website including the other two components, Project and Activities Map and Learning and Exchange Platform, will be released in the course of 2019.

The Atlas of Torture Project builds on the former Project “Atlas of Torture: Monitoring and Preventing Torture Worldwide – Building Upon the Work of the UN Special Rapporteur”, which aimed to disseminate the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak (for more information on the former Atlas of Torture Project see here

Persons involved: 

Giuliana Monina, Nóra Katona, Moritz Birk

Contact persons: 
Lead Organisation: 
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights
Partner organisations: 
Project start: 
Funded by: 
FWF Der Wissenschaftsfond and Crowdfunding (via startnext:
Human Dignity and Public Security