In their recent report: Whose Justice? Reflections from UK-based survivors of torture, REDRESS carried out a series of interviews with survivors of torture, their family members in the UK, and professionals who work with survivors. The interviews focused on what justice looks like to survivors and their families, why it is important and how it can be achieved.
The results of this report showed that all survivors wanted justice for their treatment however their definitions differed greatly. Many survivors thought that justice was central to “set the record straight” and obtain an acknowledgement and recognition of what happened to them and almost all interviewees stressed the need to ensure that perpetrators cannot torture again. However, views on whether justice was found through punishment, criminal penalty or meaningful apology varied greatly.
Survivors of torture are too often treated as a homogenous group. With between 60,000 and 98,000 survivors of torture in the UK refugee population alone, these perceptions lead to a significant misalignment between definitions of justice and when the objectives of seeking justice are set by somebody else, this can contribute to the continued traumatisation of survivors of torture, rather than their empowerment.
At Music Action International we continue to advocate and support torture survivors through our music programmes. Our unique approach significantly reduces physical and emotional trauma and creates a sense of family for people who are alone. Our program Stone Flowers supports traumatised refugee and asylum seeker torture survivors living in the UK through regular therapeutic music sessions, bringing people together who are often without family and without hope. As sessions develop, survivors begin to write original songs with messages of hope, peace and resilience. Survivors move beyond trauma to rediscover feelings of motivation and self-esteem, becoming the architects of their own recovery, using music as a strategy for coping with stress and anxiety.
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Niamh Burke MAI Volunteer
Frank, Stone Flowers
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