The aim of the study was to compare torture victims from six different nations and analyse differences and similarities. From the files of the Centre for Trauma Victims in Stockholm (KTC), 160 patients were selected: 53 patients from Bangladesh, 21 from Iran, 16 from Peru, 24 from Syria, 25 from Turkey, and 21 from Uganda. The data was classified into: (i) information about social conditions and circumstances pertaining to alleged torture, (ii) type of trauma and torture methods, and (iii) acute and late sequel to torture. Descriptive and non-parametric statistics were used in the analyses. There was a strong male dominance in all but the Ugandan group where 43% were women. The majority in all but the Turkish group had college exams and/or university studies. Over 84% were members of a political organisation except in the Iranian and Syrian groups, where more than 40% had no political affiliation. The majority in all groups had travelled to Sweden alone to apply for asylum, but most refugees from Turkey, Iran, and Syria had close relatives already living in Sweden. The stories of circumstances and torture methods were similar within each group but differed a great deal between groups. Typically, in Bangladesh, Peru, and Turkey, the periods under arrest were short: from a few hours to 3 days. In Iran, Uganda, and Syria, the time in custody varied from several months to several years. A prison sentence preceded by trial was common only in Iran. Many patients, especially from Bangladesh and Turkey, had been arrested several times. Sensory deprivation by isolation and blindfolding was common in all countries except Uganda and Peru. Beating with fists, sticks, truncheons, etc. were reported in 100% in every group. In Bangladesh, police batons (lathi) were used more commonly than in any other group. Whipping with electric cords occurred frequently only in Iran and Syria. Rape was most often reported among the Ugandans. Genital torture was frequently alleged by patients from Bangladesh and Turkey. Suspension was common in all countries except for Uganda. Falaka, i.e. beating of the soles, and electric torture were common (>60%) in Bangladesh, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. Sharp injuries inflicted with knives and bayonets were often seen among the Bangladeshi and Ugandans. Burning injuries due to cigarettes were commonly seen only in patients from Bangladesh. Some methods were found to be almost exclusive for each country: "water treatment" (Bangladesh), the "tyre" (Syria), " telephono" and "submarino" (Peru). The sequel of torture differed in some respects between groups. Fractures were more common among Iranians. Patients from Uganda and Bangladesh had numerous scars. Subjectively reported symptoms were most frequent among Bangladeshi, especially joint pain and ear, nose, and throat symptoms and least frequent among Ugandans. PTSD diagnosed on the basis of a psychiatric interview and psychological tests was found in 69-92% of patients in all groups. The study shows significant differences between countries regarding circumstances, torture methods, and sequel to torture. This knowledge is of value to forensic specialists documenting alleged torture and essential for fair and valid forensic statements. © 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
2003. Vol. 137, no 2-3, 133-140 p.