Category Archive: News

Mar 23

Fighting Torture: Q&A with Andrés Gautier

In our Fighting Torture series, we speak with people from a number of professions who work with and support survivors of torture. What does their work mean to them and what are the biggest challenges they see in the anti-torture and rehabilitation movement?


Up next in the series is Andrés Gautier, the co-founder of the Institute for Research and Therapy of Torture Sequels and State Violence (ITEI) in Bolivia. Andrés speaks about making the transition from working in a private practice to a rehabilitation centre and how torture not only affects the victim but also their family and the entire community.

Q: What is your profession and where do you work?

I am a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst at the Institute for Research and Therapy of Torture Sequels and State Violence in Bolivia (ITEI). (


Q: How long have you worked in torture rehabilitation and human rights?

Since 2001, so for 15 years.


Q: How did you end up doing this work?

I was working as a psychotherapist in a private practice in Switzerland and met and married a Bolivian refugee who is a psychologist. We had planned to go to Bolivia and happened to go to a seminar where there

was a psychotherapist from the Service for Social Rehabilitation (SERSOC) in Uruguay, who spoke about the work they were doing with torture victims. We thought it made sense to run a similar project in Bolivia so looked into if a centre already existed. It didn’t, so we went back and founded one in 2001.

Torture is related to society. When I was a psychotherapist in Switzerland I was focused on individual harm, but working with torture victims is about social harm. When working with torture victims you are involved in society in a way you are never involved when you are working in a private setting. This can make some colleagues afraid. For me it is a fascinating situation. You have to go out from your private practice. You have to make denunciations and announcements and speak out against injustice.


Q: Tell us about the situation for torture survivors where you are/area you are involved with or your home country?

When we founded the centre, most of our friends said torture is from the past, we’re a democracy now. But the reality is different. We had to treat victims of the dictatorship which ended in 1982. On the other side, the tradition of torture and ill treatment by the police and army has remained. The mentality remained. Nowadays torture is increasing.

It is recognised that there are flaws in the Justice system, but no action is taken and torture is routinely used to get a confession. There’s seldom use of scientific investigation methods, merely force. The presumption of innocence is seldom respected, so as soon as someone is detained they are exposed to ill treatment. It is also becoming more frequent for the police to demand a bribe, saying they will torture you if you don’t pay.


Q: What is a typical day in the office/field for you?

Life is unpredictable in Bolivia but my appointments with clients help to set some kind of routine that I try to keep, even though it is difficult. When I am in the office I have three to four appointments with clients each day. I also visit several prisons regularly. Every Monday I go to the prison for men and every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon I visit the women’s prison and see three to five clients.


Q: According to various surveys, many people do not think torture is such a big problem; that it is a thing of the past; or some even think that it is necessary. What would you say to them?

It is an illusion to think that torture is something that can be forgotten. When there is one incident you can be sure that it is not isolated. The tendency to torture is there, it is contagious, like gangrene.

The torture victims are affected and their families are affected. Also the perpetrator, they become ill and develop sadistic tendencies. So the state becomes the first producer of delinquency.


Q: And finally, many of us do care about torture survivors and victims. How can we support the anti-torture/torture rehabilitation movement?

These people are very important because they have the courage not to look away. These people are conscious of society. As one concentration camp survivor said, “It is not I that is ill, it is society that is ill”. When people support organisations like Amnesty International and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) financially or by being ready to hear and share what is happening this is important because the perpetrators or state want silence.

To break and sustain this broken silence is very important. We are very grateful to these people who feel solidarity with us.


This entry was posted on 22/03/2016, 09:32 and is filed under Fighting Torture Q&A, From our members. You can follow any responses to this entry through RSS 2.0. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Mar 18

(Español) Amnistía Internacional pide informe a Bolivia por “gravísimos hechos de tortura” en caso Apolo

Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.

Mar 01

Guatemala: Two Ex-soldiers Sentenced for Crimes Against Humanity

UN Experts Applaud the Sentencing of Two Ex-Soldiers in Guatamala for Crimes Against Humanity

GENEVA (1st March 2016) – A group of United Nations human rights experts today welcomed the verdicts for crimes against humanity issued by a Guatemalan Court against two former military officials.

In its decision, the Court ruled that the sexual violence perpetrated against Q’eqchi indigenous women was part of a broader control and domination plan by the Guatemalan Army, in the context of the counterinsurgency policy of the 1980s.

“It is a historic moment. This is the first case under national courts in Guatemala that addresses, as main element, the sexual violence committed against indigenous women during the internal armed conflict, and recognizes it as a crime against humanity,” the experts stressed.

Former army commander Steelmer Reyes Girón and former military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asij were respectively condemned last week to sentences of 120 years and 240 years in prison, for their perpetration of crimes against humanity in the form of sexual violence and murder, in the case of Reyes Girón, and sexual violence and enforced disappearance, in the case of Valdez Asij.

The Court noted that the offenses were committed under a strategy aimed at eliminating the men who sought to claim their collective right to indigenous lands and forcing their widows to serve the military, including sexually. The victims were subjected to sexual violence, sexual slavery, domestic slavery, as well as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Court also recognized the impact on the entire community of these abuses committed against women.

“We commend the courage and the crucial role played by women in this justice seeking process, which has established an important precedent for all women victims of violence, past and present,” the experts stated. “Without the unwavering commitment of these victims, this trial and the historic step towards truth and justice would not have been possible.”

Concerned by the high rates of impunity and violence, the experts recalled the State’s obligation to “take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of women victims, witnesses, justice practitioners and those who participated and supported this judicial process.”

“In view of the upcoming reparations judgement scheduled for 2 March, we urge the authorities to ensure the provision of appropriate and gender sensitive measures of redress to the victims of these crimes, and to their indigenous communities,” they urged.

The Special Reporter on the rights of indigenous persons, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and the Special Reporter on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonoviæ, were in Guatemala last week observing the last two days of the public hearings, in solidarity with the victims.

The experts also commended the invaluable support of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala during this process.

Follow the link below to read the press release (it appears in both Spanish and English) in full:

Dec 04

ROUND TABLE “Narcissism and Colonial Mentality”

ROUND TABLE “Narcissism and Colonial Mentality”

La Paz, 11 December 19.00


Olga Varela  – Psychoanalyst

Alexandro Sarsuri – Sociologist

José Luis Pardo – Psychoanalyst

Andrés Gautier – Psychoanalyst


Casa Museo Solón  – Ecuador 2517

Dec 04

PSYCHOANALYTIC SEMINAR “Narcissism in Life – Narcissism in Death”


La Paz, 11-12 December 2015


 “Narcissism in Life – Narcissism in Death”

Given by:

 Mgtr. Olga Varela Tello

 Director of the Guadalajaran Psychoanalytic Association

Teaching Coordinator of the Guadalajaran Psychoanalytic Association

Board Member of the Guadalajaran Psychoanalytic Association

Direcot of  Expansion of the Latinamerican Psychoanalysis Institution of Fepal and IPA (ILAP)


Reports and Registration:
Av. 6 de Agosto 2006, Edif. V Centenario Piso 1 Dpto. 1A
Phone: 2154094-2911916

Leer documento completo en PDF (Español)

Programa Seminario Narcisismo

Oct 04

(Español) Campesinos piden libertad de implicado en caso Apolo

Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.

Oct 03

(Español) Federación de campesinos pide la liberación de un implicado en el caso Apolo

Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.

Aug 31

Inter-Institutional Agreement on the Formation of a Coalition

FirmaConvenioCoalicionInter-Institutional Agreement on the Formation of a Coalition “Against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatments”

The institutions and organizations who have signed the document below are committed to Human Rights and are working for their defense, therewith aiming at the following main objectives: to promote and facilitate joint actions in order to fulfill the national standards and to comply to the international instruments of prevention, investigation and punishment of acts of torture, and of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments. With the signing of the following agreement these aims and the formation of a Civil Coalition against Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatments are agreed on. The coalition aims at demanding the fulfillment of the obligations emerging from the international treaties against torture, signed and ratified by the Plurinational State of Bolivia to prevent torture, to protect the victims and their rehabilitation.

Read PDF.

Inter-Institutional Agreement on the Formation of a Coalition

Aug 24

(Español) ITEI: En Bolivia no existe una estrategia contra la tortura

Sorry, this entry is only available in European Spanish.

Aug 23

ITEI denounces policy of negation of torture in Bolivia

ITEI denounces policy of negation of torture in Bolivia

ANF / La Paz

The Therapeutic Institute Against Torture (ITEI) in its report “Torture in Bolivia?” maintains that there is no strategy against this crime in Bolivia and in fact there is a policy of negation of torture, althuogh the State promised to fight against it with the ratification of itnernational treaties. 12 April 1999 Bolivia signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Torture and 23 May 2006 ratified the convention’s Optional Protocol.

Para leer la noticia completa (Español) ir a:

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