Atlas of Torture

Advancing together the fight against torture and ill-treatment

The Atlas of Torture is a ‘one-stop-shop’ for information on torture and ill-treatment and how they can be prevented. It aims at raising awareness, empowering individuals and organizations as well as fostering cooperation through documentation, learning, and exchange.

Together we can be more effective in fighting torture and ill-treatment worldwide!

The Atlas of Torture

Why an Atlas of Torture?

Despite their universal and absolute prohibition, torture and ill-treatment remain a “global crisis” affecting the majority of States worldwide.

The Atlas of Torture wants to use the potential of internet-based technologies to empower human rights defenders, practitioners and individuals in the global fight against torture. It aims to:

  • Raise awareness on the problem of torture and ill-treatment and how it can be prevented through documentation, learning and exchange.
  • Ensure easy access to information on torture and ill-treatment.
  • Make the work of actors engaged in the fight against torture and ill-treatment more visible and strengthen exchange and cooperation.

What is the Atlas of Torture?

The Atlas of Torture is a resource for States, civil society organisations, researchers and human rights defenders and the public at large to access information, learn, exchange and get involved in the fight against torture and ill-treatment.

The core element of the new Atlas of Torture is a user-friendly database on the situation of torture and ill-treatment and how it can be prevented. The database provides information on:

  • The situation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide, country by country, in a ‘world map of torture and ill-treatment’, with relevant publications of international and national human rights organisations and researchers
  • The international legal framework on torture and ill-treatment, with a special focus on the UN Convention against Torture and its Optional Protocol, and practical guidance on how to combat torture and ill-treatment (e.g. guidelines on detention monitoring, investigation mechanisms, legal reforms, etc.)
  • Thematic issues and relevant groups (e.g. children, women, LGBTI in detention etc.)

The database is built on UWAZI, an open-source solution for organising, analysing and publishing documents designed by HURIDOCS. UWAZI was specifically developed to make information more easily accessible. It will allow users to search documents via various filters obtaining targeted search results. Moreover, possibilities to visualise the information through maps and graphs will be explored to enhance the accessibility and usability of the database.

In a next step – with the funding obtained through a crowdfunding campaign in June/July 2018 – we will further develop the Atlas of Torture with a Projects and Activities Map and Learning and Exchange platform. Within the framework of the Atlas of Torture, we want to explore ways to strengthen the fight against torture through internet based technologies and innovative formats. We want to create a platform that gives more visibility to the actors fighting against torture and ill-treatment, raise awareness, foster exchange and empower organisations and individuals across the world.


How can you support the Atlas of Torture?


The aim of the website is to generate a community of users and contributors to make the Atlas of Torture project sustainable in the long-run. We encourage everyone who is interested in the fight against torture to get in touch!

Close cooperation with you and other anti-torture organisations is key for setting up an Atlas of Torture’s website that is sustainable in the long-run.

Who is behind the Atlas of Torture?

The Atlas of Torture is a joint project of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights and HURIDOCS. The project is supported by the LBG 'Open Innovation in Science Center’.

The team of experts behind the Atlas of Torture based at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) in Vienna. The BIM is the largest independent human rights research institute in Austria. The Department ‘Human Dignity and Public Security’ at the BIM is specialised in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of human rights in the criminal justice system. The Department was established in 2004 to support Manfred Nowak’s mandate as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture (2004-2010), investigating the situation of torture and ill-treatment worldwide. Observing the lack of follow-up and implementation of recommendations for the prevention of torture, the team has since then carried out extensive research on the effectiveness of torture prevention measures, focusing particularly on the following questions:

  • What measures and mechanisms are effective in the prevention of torture and ill-treatment and the protection of detainees’ rights?
  • How can existing legal and institutional frameworks be strengthened to more effectively prevent torture and protect human rights, especially the rights of detainees?
  • How can monitoring and oversight mechanisms ensure the implementation of national and international human rights obligations?


Based in Geneva, HURIDOCS is a non-profit organisation that has worked at the intersection of technology and human rights for over 35 years. HURIDOCS is a globally distributed team of information scientists, documentation experts, information security specialists and software designers out to empower defenders to act strategically on human rights information. HURIDOCS supports the Atlas of Torture in using information and technology most efficiently to fight torture and ill-treatment.

LBG Open Innovation in Science Center

The LBG 'Open Innovation in Science Center’ is systematically bringing open innovation methods into research. It is unique in the European research landscape, with the decisive goal to enter into a dialogue with citizens, redesigning conventional research processes with the goal to generate greater societal impact through research. The LBG 'Open Innovation in Science Center’ is supporting the Atlas of Torture.



The website has been co-funded by the Austrian Research Fund - FWF (Österreichischer Wissenschaftsfonds)

Crowdfunding campaign

The website is also made possible thank to all the supporters who donated in the framework of a crowdfunding campaign in June/July 2018! The funding raised through the crowdfunding will be used for the programming and set-up of the 'Projects & Activities Map' and the 'Learning & Exchange Platform'.