Freedom from Torture, the only UK-based human rights organisation solely dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of torture survivors, has chosen Sonya Sceats as its new Chief Executive.
Sonya, a lawyer with expertise in international human rights law, was formerly Director of Policy and Advocacy at Freedom from Torture and has been acting CEO for the past five months. She took up the permanent post on 5 March.
Sue Berelowitz, Chair of Freedom from Torture, said:
"On behalf of the trustees of Freedom from Torture, I am delighted to welcome Sonya Sceats as our new Chief Executive. Sonya combines her passionate advocacy for the survivors of torture with deep knowledge and experience, an incisive intellect and a superb track record as a human rights expert.
Sonya knows Freedom from Torture well, having been our Director of Policy and Advocacy before stepping up into the role of Acting CEO. She is totally committed to the rehabilitation of those who have been tortured and to working actively to end torture.
Above all, Sonya is determined that our service users will play a central and decisive role in shaping practice and policy. These are the goals of Freedom from Torture and I and the trustees look forward to working with Sonya and her team in ensuring we deliver outstanding support for those whom we serve."
Accepting the role, Sonya Sceats said:
"I am truly honoured to lead this organisation that I have served and loved for so long. Every day Freedom from Torture transforms survivors' lives by helping them to secure legal protection and recover what torturers tried to take away: their self-worth, capacity to trust and love others and power to fight injustice.
Now more than ever we need to combine this impact at a very human level with activism to end the systematic disbelief, deprivation and detention that so many survivors face in the asylum system. We will also continue to press the UK government and others to uphold the torture ban and use our formidable evidence base to ensure torturing states are held to account.
I look forward to devoting my energy to supporting Freedom from Torture's vital clinical services and working with survivors and our passionate staff and supporters to stand up for survivors' rights and challenge systems here and abroad that cause them harm."
Sonya has worked for Freedom from Torture for more than eight years including three years as our Director of Policy and Advocacy. She is a qualified Australian lawyer with over 15 years' experience working on human rights issues for non-governmental organisations, including Amnesty International and the British Institute of Human Rights, and various academic institutions in the US and UK. Sonya is also an Associate Fellow in International Law at Chatham House.