Source description last updated: 16 July 2020

In brief: The World Organisation Against Torture (Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture, OMCT) is a network of NGOs working for the protection of human rights and fighting against torture and impunity. OMCT provides assistance to torture victims, operates as an advocate for persons affected by torture, and documents human rights violations in all countries.

Coverage on

Urgent appeals/interventions, reports, press releases/statements for countries of priorities A-C.

Covered twice a week on


“Created in 1985, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) is today the main coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGO) fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. With over 200 affiliated organisations in its SOS-Torture Network and many tens of thousands correspondents in every country, OMCT is the most important network of non-governmental organisations working for the protection and the promotion of human rights in the world. Based in Geneva, OMCT’s International Secretariat provides personalised medical, legal and/or social assistance to hundreds of torture victims and ensures the daily dissemination of urgent interventions across the world, in order to protect individuals and to fight against impunity.” (OMCT website: About OMCT, undated)

“OMCT’s main objective, via its International Secretariat, is to link [...] organisations and to coordinate and support their operations in order to maximise the effectiveness of their action on the ground. The SOS-Torture Network is thus at the heart of OMCT’s work.” (OMCT website: OMCT Network, undated)

“OMCT Europe’s main goal is to appeal for a more coherent and effective European human rights policy. At the internal level, it advocates for the EU to integrate the various international human rights norms into its legislation. At the external level, OMCT Europe appeals for the creation of a control mechanism on Union activities and the measures it adopts. This double requirement aims to ensure a real coherence in the EU’s external policy so that respect for human rights is recognised as an essential element for peace and security, and that it becomes incontrovertible at all levels of the EU’s foreign policy.” (OMCT website: OMCT Europe, undated)

“OMCT enjoys a consultative status with the following institutions: ECOSOC (United Nations), the International Labour Organization, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, and the Council of Europe.” (OMCT website: About OMCT, undated)

Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders ( uses the publishers FIDH and OMCT for the Observatory’s publications)

"In partnership with the FIDH, OMCT created the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in 1997. This unique collaboration is based on the complementarity of each organisation’s approach and is based on their respective NGO networks." (OMCT website: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, undated)

"The Observatory is an action programme based on the belief that strengthened co-operation and solidarity among defenders and their organisations will contribute to break the isolation they are faced with. It is also based on the absolute necessity to establish a systematic response from NGOs and the international community to the repression against defenders." (FIDH website: The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders: An FIDH and OMCT Joint Programme, undated)


In 2018, OMCT’s income consisted of CHF 3,374,025.90 in restricted funds and CHF 551,756.76 in non-restricted funds. (OMCT: Annual Report 2018, 2018, p. 23)

Sources of OMCT’s funding include institutional donors, such as foundations and other partners, governments and embassies, international and intergovernmental organisations and local grants (from cantons, cities and municipalities in Switzerland) as well as individual donors. (OMCT: Annual Report 2018, 2018, p. 22)

“The OMCT is continuing its efforts to raise unrestricted funds, in order to gain flexibility to better cope with emergencies, as well as to ensure the long-term stability of activities carried out in the field.” (OMCT: Annual Report 2018, 2018, p. 23)

Scope of reporting:

Geographic focus: Worldwide.

Thematic focus: Torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. (OMCT website: About OMCT, undated)


“The organisation’s structure and working methods remain radically different from those of other international human rights organisations. OMCT’s strategy for intervention is indeed based upon the idea that human rights violations must be considered within the local and international context as well as in relation to the actors affected by them [...] OMCT set as its task the provision of support for the actions of organisations in the field, while avoiding substituting itself for them.” (OMCT website: History, undated)

“Specific programmes allow [OMCT] to provide support to specific categories of vulnerable people, such as women, children and human rights defenders. In the framework of its activities, OMCT also submits individual communications and alternative reports to the special mechanisms of the United Nations, and actively collaborates in the respect, development and strengthening of international norms for the protection of human rights.” (OMCT website: About OMCT, undated)

“OMCT actions within the Network follows three principles:

  • OMCT seeks to respect the originality and action methods of each NGO member in the Network.
  • It believes that the information received from these organisations reflects the reality on the ground in all its complexity, and integrates the local NGO’s strategy approach and cultural background.
  • OMCT’s “modus operandi” completes and reinforces action on the ground, without ever trying to replace it.

[...] OMCT’s International Secretariat plays the role of the “alert system”. It ensures the broad and immediate transmission of cases of torture that are reported on the ground. [...] Network members are chosen on the basis of the criteria of independence, professionalism and credibility. [...] The Network refuses NGOs that:

  • Support an armed struggle or prompt hatred or violence in any way.
  • Work for a government, an information service or a political party.

The following NGOs are excluded from the Network:

  • Those who have deliberately transmitted false information.
  • Those who have manipulated information transmitted by the SOS-Torture Network.

OMCT specialists train local leaders. They offer assistance to local NGOs in their legal procedures [...] The network approach also enables the sharing and exchanging of experiences between various NGOs. Moreover, Network membership represents a source of protection for NGO members working on the ground. [...] OMCT works with local NGOs on the preparation of Alternative reports that are presented to UN committees [...] Local organisations participate in the presentation of the report [...] They also develop knowledge that allows them, later on, to present their own reports to UN bodies. [...] The information disseminated by OMCT in the framework of its “urgent appeals” is exclusively received from organisations that are active on the ground. This requirement forces local NGOs to apply a rigorous data-collection methodology. The information that they provide must be precise and verified. [...] OMCT favours affiliation with NGOs that are active in under-represented countries, or in regions that are affected by an increasing number of violations.” (OMCT website: About OMCT Network, undated)

“OMCT Europe maintains regular contact between European institutions and OMCT’s International Secretariat [...] OMCT Europe assists the International Secretariat in its search for funding [...] OMCT Europe assists in developing OMCT’s mandate in Europe” (OMCT website: OMCT Europe, undated)

Languages of publications:

English, French and Spanish

Further reading / links:

OMCT: Annual Report 2018, 2018

OMCT: Report on Implementing OMCT’s Project; Preventing Torture and other forms of violence by acting on their economic, social and cultural root causes; January 2007 to March 2010, March 2010

OMCT website: OMCT Network, undated

All links accessed 16 July 2020.