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Background. European countries apply a policy of deterrence of migrants in territorial and extraterritorial border areas. The authors apply the model of torturing environments, which has been already applied to other contexts where persons are deprived of liberty, to the situation of the reception center of Moria, on the island of Lesvos (Greece). Methods. A cross-sectional study was conducted in the months of April and June of 2020. Personal interviews were conducted with 160 people (80 men, 80 women) from Afghan, Syrian, Somalian, and Congo backgrounds. The authors applied the Torturing Environmental Scale, which measures interpersonal violence, emotional distress, and legal safeguards. Results. The findings confirm the inhumane living conditions for the people sheltered in Moria, documenting the severe suffering of the population due to elements linked to basic human functions (hunger, thirst, hygiene, overcrowding, temperature, etc.), actions that produce fear and distress, actions that produce helplessness and hopelessness, actions that cause physical pain, attacks on sexual integrity, and attacks on identity and the need to belong. Some of the data suggest that the purposive and intentionality elements of the definition of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment were also met. Conclusions. According to the conceptual model of torturing environments, the Moria reception camp constitutes a space of systematic ill treatment that vulnerated the European legal standards related to torture (Article 3 of the Human Rights Convention). The idea of torturing environments provides a valuable avenue to assess human rights violations in collective spaces and could constitute a useful tool in forensic and litigation processes.

Ficha técnica


Pau Pérez Sales, Andrea Galán Santamarina, María Victoria Zunzunegui y Sara López Martin


Public Health


Pérez-Sales, P.; Galán-Santamarina, A.; Zunzunegui, M.V.; López-Martin, S. Refugee Camps as Torturing Environments— An Analysis of the Conditions in the Moria Reception Center (Greece) Based on the Torturing Environment Scale. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 10233. https://

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