Freedom from Torture - What we do

What we do

Survivors Speak OUT (SSO) is committed to advancing the rights of torture survivors and holding perpetrators to account.

We do this through: Public Outreach; Improving the Asylum Environment; Campaigning; and Influencing Decision Makers

Public Outreach

Members of the public, both in the UK and abroad, often have a limited understanding of torture, the effect it can have on individuals, and the unique challenges that are faced by survivors when trying to rebuild their lives

Given this lack of understanding, we view informing the public as an integral part of our work. Our audiences have been made up of school children, university students, and members of faith, community and activist groups. We spoke to over 650 people in 2012 alone.

"I could have passed that man on the street and never had known what he had gone through in his life in Africa and how hard it was for him to adapt to the UK. The SSO speaker made me really think about human rights abuse and how we can try and stop it."

Jamilla, Year 10, Camden School for Girls, London.

In 2013 we will be combining our public outreach with Freedom from Torture's new campaign which highlights the devastating effects poverty has on torture survivors in the UK.

If you would like SSO to come and speak about life in the UK and explain why supporting Freedom from Torture's 'Poverty Barrier' research is important, please contact Kolbassia Haoussou, Network Coordinator, by phone on 0207 697 7139, or by email at:

Improving the Asylum Environment

AsylumSurvivors Speak OUT members often collaborate with Freedom from Torture's Training and Capacity Building team to help improve the services provided by domestic and international agencies that deal with torture survivors.

Having themselves been service-users, SSO members can offer personal insights into what constitutes good and bad practice when engaging with survivors of torture.

Unfortunately, many police officers, lawyers, doctors, psychologists and immigration officials still have much to learn about working sensitively with survivors. That is why capacity building is vital for improving the life of survivors in the UK.

As one of the only survivor-led groups in the world, we also share our expertise and learning with other organisations and networks interested in developing active participation in human rights.

To find out more about capacity building opportunities with Freedom of Torture and the Survivors Speak OUT network, please contact us at .


Campaigning in brusselsChallenging popular misconceptions about people seeking protection is key to our work.

To achieve this, SSO campaigns at the local and national level. We also develop partnerships with other organisations to speak out against torture and to work together for a fair, humane and effective asylum system in the UK.

The media plays a central role in informing public debate and the network works with journalists and media outlets to both highlight the continuing practice of torture around the world and to dispel negative stereotypes about asylum seekers and refugees..

Network members write blogs and produce a quarterly podcast to update our followers on recent and upcoming events. The latest contributions appear in thr right hand column.

SSO also lends its voice to Freedom from Torture campaigns. Currently, we are working on the 'Poverty Barrier' campaign, which highlights the human impact of poverty on torture survivors in the UK.

Influencing Decision Makers

Only by influencing decision-makers – from the Home Office in the UK, to members of the European Parliament and United Nations, internationally – can we hope to bring about lasting improvements to the lives of torture survivors.

'I am very impressed with what SSO have accomplished already and what they are planning to do...Governments need to be consulting survivors, who are the experts, rather than the top-down method...I have been encouraged by this conversation and I think [SSO] are a very promising way of moving forward.'

Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture