Rethinking human rights protection: lessons from survivors of torture and beyond?

Steffen Bo Jensen, Toby Kelly

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How can human rights mechanisms better protect victims of torture? The article serves as an introduction to a special issue on torture and human rights protection. It argues that human rights protection is often thought about in a way that is both too narrow and too broad to provide effective responses to the needs of survivors of torture, their families and communities. The article proposes an approach that looks at protection from the perspective of the security of survivors rather than formal norms and mechanisms. Such a perspective cannot act as a magic bullet for human rights work, but it does create space for reflection on the problems and challenges of protection from violence, and for identifying what does work, for whom, and in what ways.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the British Academy
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • police violence
  • torture
  • human rights
  • protection


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