Drawing on its experience and legitimised by its practical work with exiles, the Primo Levi Centre advocates through informational campaigns institutionally and as a part of a network to testify to the effects of torture, promote appropriate care, and raise awarness for mental health care. It regularly participates in the drafting and promotion of advocacy reports in conjunction with other associations. It is a partner in information and awareness-raising campaigns. Finally, the Primo Levi Centre regularly takes part in gatherings, meetings, debates and screenings organised by associations and cultural partners to shed light on the effects of political violence and exile.

Bearing witness to torture

According to Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture (ACAT France), torture is practiced in one country out of two. Victims are shrouded in a veil of silence from which they can suffer as much as the physical and psychological after-effects themselves. Silence, experienced almost as a negation, vindicates the torturers who have sought to silence their victims or the community they represent, to erase their identity and uniqueness. For this reason, when the Primo Levi Centre was set up in 1995, it became clear that it was impossible to treat the effects of torture, and more broadly of political violence, without bearing witness to them. Legitimized by its clinical experience, the Primo Levi Centre bears witness by raising awareness and lobbying the general public and decision-makers. It’s aim is to contribute to a change of perspective, appropriate care and improved reception conditions in France.

Defending the Right to Health

The Primo Levi Centre assists exiles who require medical and/or psychological care, regardless of their administrative status. These people have been subjected to violence in their own country, and most of them have been through a traumatic exile. They arrive in a deteriorated state of physical and mental health, which requires rapid and coordinated action. Each of them must have unconditional access to care, without suspicion of fraud, and benefit from the presence of an interpreter when necessary. Depending on their administrative situation, exiles in France have access to a range of healthcare services. However, successive administrative reforms are restricting their access to healthcare and distance them from appropriate care. The consequences of these decisions overload already overburdened emergency services, weaken health establishments and professionals, and call into question the principle of universal access to healthcare.

Defending the right of asylum

The failure to recognise the suffering they have endured and the fear of being turned back exacerbate the suffering of women, men and children who have had to flee the threats, violence and persecution suffered in their countries of origin. The Primo Levi Centre has witnessed the effects of exile, political violence and the deterioration in reception conditions for exiles, and is committed to defending the right to asylum in its own name or within various association networks. Its experience shows that new arrivals have difficulty accessing administrative procedures and the asylum process. Added to this is the difficulty of presenting a clear and coherent story for people suffering from psychotrauma, and the fear of a refusal likely to lead to an obligation to leave French territory. Access to the material reception conditions associated with an asylum application, as well as a protective administrative status, are necessary to enable exiles to stabilise their state of health, overcome the effects of torture and envisage a slow process of reconstruction.