Keynote for the European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture, in Munich

28 Oct 2015

by Jane Herlihy

I’m not long back from speaking at the 12th annual meeting of the European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture, in Munich. The event was hosted by Refugio, the Treatment Center for Torture Survivors in Munich, and held in the Schloss Furstenried – a retreat centre, out in the beautiful autumnal woods at the edge of the city. The meeting had been thought about for a year or two, as most large conferences are, but the careful planning had to accommodate a sense of bewilderment at the recent turn of events that had seen Germany open its borders over the summer to unexpected numbers of refugees arriving from the south.

Exerzitienhaus Schloss Fürstenried

I had been asked to speak on memory. I didn’t want to presume to teach experienced clinicians about the effects of trauma so I drew on Just Tell Us What Happened To You, our review of the memory literature, and showed how even basic memory processing (normal and motivated forgetting, ) and interviewing effects (suggestibility, the context & language of questions) must be properly understood by lawyers and decision makers if international protection decisions are to be correct and just.

The presentation provoked many engaged discussions, and a number of people have asked for further information and material from us for current clients and for their work with state and judicial decision makers in countries across Europe, working together to ensure that those in need of international protection get fair and timely decisions.

I pointed everyone interested to our new research hub – and am hoping that they will sign up to receive our e-news – especially as there’s one due any day now...