1 October, Birmingham - REDRESS legal counsel Lutz Oette will take part in a seminar to discuss the case of Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for apostasy – the abandonment of a religion - and 100 lashes for adultery by a Sudanese Court in May. Meriam was imprisoned with her 20-month-old son and a baby daughter, whom she gave birth to while in shackles in prison.
REDRESS together with four other organisations appealed to the African Commission - Africa's main human rights body- on behalf of Meriam. She won an appeal before a domestic court in Sudan in June and now lives in the USA. The case attracted international attention. The event is part of a series hosted by Birmingham City University's City Talks.
Photo courtesy of hardwiredglobal.org
On 22 September, Chatham House in London hosted an event titled 'The International Criminal Court and Libya: Complementarity in Conflict'. The event dealt with the case of former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, who will be tried in Libya after his case was declared inadmissible by the ICC; and that of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who according to the same Court should stand trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity. The contrast between these two cases, and questions over Libya's ability to guarantee a fair trial were discussed at the event.
REDRESS Director Carla Ferstman took part in the discussions. Alongside Carla were Defence Counsel Melinda Taylor and Professor Kevin Jon Heller of SOAS. The event was chaired by Elizabeth Wilmshurst CMG.
10 October, London - REDRESS is convening a free workshop titled 'Austerity and Legal Aid: Impact on the Vulnerable'. Topics covered will include accessing welfare and housing, and challenging the detention of vulnerable individuals. RSVP to email@example.com
We are also organizing a free seminar on justice and reparation with Matrix Chambers on 9 October in London.
James Lewis is running five marathons before he turns 25 to raise money for REDRESS' work on behalf of torture survivors. His next big challenge is the Warsaw Marathon on 28 September.
If you want to make a difference to the lives of torture survivors, please help James raise funds on his JustGiving page.
"If you could give any pennies you have, that would be great," said James. He explained that he wanted to support REDRESS because "organisations such as yours do crucial work for people who do not have access to justice easily."
REDRESS is among the proud recipients of the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. In 2011, REDRESS received a $500,000 grant from the American foundation for effectively addressing pressing national and international challenges and having had an impact that is disproportionate to its small size.
Justice for victims of Romanian repression
17 September 2014 - The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights today upheld the rights of victims of torture to have their cases investigated and prosecuted, even many years after the events.
In Mocanu & Others v Romania the Court considered complaints brought by victims of a brutal government crackdown on anti-government protests in Bucharest in June 1990.
The crackdown was marked by the intervention of groups of miners from the Jiu Valley, who had been brought to Bucharest by the government to counter the protesters. The violent events resulted in more than a thousand victims and several civilian casualties, including the husband of one of the applicants in this case.
While the scale of the violations was massive, and the investigation complex, the Court held that this only increased the importance to Romanian society of prompt and effective investigations and prosecutions. The Court awarded two applicants substantial compensation.
REDRESS intervened in the case as a third-party. Our intervention set out international standards and comparative jurisprudence on criminalisation of torture and ill-treatment, the phychological effects of such treatment and how it can impact on the ability to make a complaint, and statutes of limitation in relation to such crimes.
One of the victims complained to the authorities about his treatment in 2001, but after an investigation, proceedings were closed because of the limitation period applicable to the crime of assault. In its judgement, the Grand Chamber recognised that the psychological impact of torture and ill-treatment, and lack of faith in state authorities, may explain a delay in making a complaint.
Referring to REDRESS's submissions, the Grand Chamber said: "Like the United Nations Committee against Torture, quoted by the third-party intervener, the Court acknowledges that the psychological effects of ill-treatment inflicted by State agents may also undermine victims’ capacity to complain about treatment inflicted on them, and may thus constitute a significant impediment to the right to redress of victims of torture and other ill-treatment."
Photo of the 1990 Mineriad in 1990 in Bucharest by Cristian Chirita.
REDRESS to intervene in post-election sexual violence case in Kenya
2 September 2014 - REDRESS has been granted permission to intervene as a third-party in ongoing proceedings before the High Court in Kenya concerning a constitutional petition filed by civil society organisations and sexual violence victims against various representatives of the Kenyan state.
The petitioners claim that Kenyan authorities failed to protect victims of sexual violence during the post-election violence in 2007/2008, when numerous forms of sexual and gender-based violence were committed against women, men, girls and boys, including rape and forced circumcision. They also claim that authorities have not fulfilled their obligation to investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence afterwards and to provide reparations to the victims.
In its intervention, REDRESS will address the international legal framework as well as international and regional jurisprudence on the state obligation towards victims of sexual and gender-based violence, with a focus on reparation measures.
Photo by Julius Mwelu / IRIN