Protection Against Torture

2 January-12 March 2013 | Closed
Instructor: Dr. Krassimir Kanev

This e-learning course provides participants with knowledge of the international standards and international mechanisms for protection against torture. It explores the concepts of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment on the basis of international law and jurisprudence. The major sources of the latter are the European Court of Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Committee, the UN Committee against Torture and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The course also introduces the international mechanisms for protection against torture and CID treatment or punishment. It deals with four types of mechanisms: reviews by the UN statutory bodies; reviews of country reports before the UN treaty bodies; international complaints mechanisms and the mechanisms for prevention of torture and CID treatment or punishment at the UN, Council of Europe and national levels.

Course structure

The course involves 60 hours of reading, on-line working groups, interaction with students and the instructor, assignments and webinars and is offered over a 11-week period. The course is based on participatory, active learning approach, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. It draws on a variety of sources, including reports and decisions of international human rights bodies and academic literature. Some of the readings were prepared for the specific purposes of the course. Occasionally, participants will be presented with fact patterns and will be asked to apply the standards that they have learned to resolve cases. The maximum number of course participants is 25. Students who successfully complete the course will receive a certificate of completion. It is also possible to audit the course.

Course outline

Week 1: Formulation of the ban and its status as a norm of international law
Week 2: International mechanisms for protection against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
Week 3: The concept of torture
Week 4: The concept of minimum level of severity
Week 5: Cruel and inhumane treatment
Week 6: “Open week”
Week 7: Degrading treatment
Week 8: Inhumane or degrading punishment
Week 9: Positive duties of states
Week 10: Proof of facts, standard and burden of proof
Week 11: Prevention of torture and CID treatment or punishment: the UN and the Council of Europe systems

About the instructor: Dr. Krassimir Kanev

Krassimir KanevDr. Krassimir Kanev is Chairperson of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. He is a Board member of the Assocation for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT) and former Member of the Executive Committee of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF). He teaches human rights and sociology of law at University of Sofia (Bulgaria). He has extensive experience as human rights monitor in Europe and Central Asia including for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He has been an HREA e-learning instructor since 2003 for the courses Human Rights Fact-Finding, Human Rights Advocacy (in Russian), and Human Rights Litigation.

Who should apply

The course is particularly intended for human rights defenders, NGO staff, staff of intern-governmental organisations with a mandate to prevent torture and ill-treatment, and law enforcement officials, prison officials and other professionals that work in closed institutions. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use.


Tuition fee for participants: US$ 575; tuition for auditors: US$ 215.

How to register

Registration is closed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about HREA’s e-learning courses.