19 avril 2011 – International rehabilitation council for torture victims
This week marked US IRCT member the Program for Torture Victims’ (PTV) 31st anniversary. PTV is the only centre in Greater Los Angeles offering medical, psychological and legal services to victims of state-sponsored torture and was the first programme in the United States dedicated to treating torture survivors.
At a gala dinner to mark the occasion, former federal judge and human rights advocate Bruce Einhorn, labour and immigrant rights leader Maria Elena Durazo, restaurateur and activist Susan Feniger, and community health partner Venice Family Clinic, received the PTV Human Dignity Awards 2011.
This was the first time that PTV held this kind of event to promote its work and the initiative was a success. It had 560 attendees and raised close to US$ 300,000. Many prominent persons were in attendance, including Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti, who was one of the night’s emcees, and Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno. PTV showed a video featuring Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa congratulating the organisations and the evening’s four honourees.
PTV provides services to more than 300 survivors annually. The organisation was founded by Chilean Dr Jose Quiroga and Argentinean Dr Ana Deutsch. Dr. Jose Quiroga, currently Medical Director at PTV, and Dr Ana Deutsch, a psychologist and PTV Clinical Director, met in Los Angeles in 1979. They began their collaboration by working with the Los Angeles Amnesty International Medical Group organisation which was documenting cases of torture and the consequences for refugees and asylum-seekers in the United States.
Dr. Quiroga and Ms. Deutsch knew that the torture survivors with whom they worked needed rehabilitation services and decided to start an independent programme. And so, in 1980, the Program for Torture Victims was born. They began by treating clients in local clinics and in their own homes. From the beginning, they adopted a multidisciplinary approach to the rehabilitation of torture survivors that included medical, psychological, case management and legal services.
PTV has since then developed an integrated, comprehensive approach to rehabilitation. Thanks to its partnership with organisations such as Clinica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero, El Rescate, CARECEN and Amanecer, PTV quickly became well known among the Central American refugee community.
In 1994, PTV received its first grant from the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture and was incorporated as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organisation. In 2000, PTV obtained a US government grant for US $2 million over a four-year period, allowing it to add staff and relocate the administrative office from Ms. Deutsch’s home to Mercado La Paloma, near downtown Los Angeles. With paid staff and a central office, PTV was finally able to expand its scope to embrace areas including research and evaluation.