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UK Government urged to investigate allegations that consular staff failed to protect British victims of torture

London, 24 November 2014 - The influential Commons Foreign Affairs Committee released its report into consular services on 24 November. The report calls on the Government to investigate allegations that consular staff failed to protect British nationals who may have been tortured or mistreated while in detention abroad.

Several British nationals and rights groups working with victims of torture, including REDRESS, made the allegations during a year-long inquiry by the Committee into consular services. In its submissions to the Committee, REDRESS noted the sharp increase in reported allegations of ill-treatment of British nationals abroad in recent years, from an average of 50 reports a year in 2005-2010 to 95 in 2013, according to the Foreign Office's own figures.

In its report, Support for British Nationals abroad: The Consular Service, the Committee urges the Government to interview the consular officials involved in the claims and to report back to the Committee with its findings.

See REDRESS' submissions to the FAC inquiry


 

New handbook for victims of serious international crimes

17 November 2014 -  REDRESS, FIDH and TRIAL have published a new handbook to help victims of serious international crimes and their families access support and justice in the European Union.

The Handbook for Victims of Serious International Crimes in the EU: Your rights to access support, advice and justice aims to serve as a guide for victims of serious international crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, torture and enforced disappearance) who are interested in filing a formal complaint within the EU as well as victims who are already seeking justice through EU courts.

The handbook may also be useful for victims that are seeking asylum as well as individuals living in another country outside the EU, but have information or evidence which suggests that persons or organisations responsible for what happened are inside the EU.

Click here to see the Handbook


MacArthur Award recognises REDRESS' work around the world

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. 

 

Case Updates

Belhaj

Court of Appeal rules in favour of Libyan victims in UK rendition case 

On 30 October the UK Court of Appeal ruled that Abdul-Hakim Belhaj and his wife, Fatima Bouchar, have the right to sue the UK officials allegedly involved in their abduction and illegal transfer to Libya. They allege that they were tortured during their transport and while detained in Libya.

Mr Belhaj was an opposition commander during the Libyan armed conflict of 2011 and is now leader of the Libyan Al-Watan Party. He alleges that in 2004 UK officials conspired with the CIA and Libyan intelligence to abduct him and his wife and transfer them to Gaddafi’s Libya, where he says that he was imprisoned and repeatedly tortured.  

The case was first brought by Mr Belhaj against UK officials in 2011. The UK Government had argued that state immunity and the “act of state” doctrine precluded British courts from hearing the case. But the Court of Appeal disagrees, finding that state immunity does not prevent claims being brought against UK officials in UK courts, simply because their actions are said to be connected to the acts of foreign states. Nor can the “act of state” doctrine bar the claim, because of the seriousness of the human rights violations allegedly suffered by Mr Belhaj.

Amnesty International, ICJ, JUSTICE and REDRESS intervened jointly in this case.

Read the press release here

Read more about the case here

Photo courtesy of Reprieve

 

REDRESS pressures Cameroon to fulfil obligations to tortured political activist  

On 15 October REDRESS appealed to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Rapporteur on Reprisals to put pressure on Cameroon to fulfil its obligations to Ebeneezer Akwanga, a well-known human rights defender who was tortured for his peaceful activism on behalf of Southern Cameroonians. 

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee, one of the UN bodies who monitor states’ compliance with their human rights obligations, found unanimously in favour of Akwanga: it urged Cameroon to re-examine his conviction and compensate him, among other measures, but Cameroon has not yet complied with the Committee’s requests.

Akwanga was arrested by police officers in 1997 and for the next six years suffered serious human rights violations, including incommunicado detention and torture, like having melted plastic bags dripped onto his bare thighs. Despite being a civilian, he was tried before a military tribunal and sentenced to 20 years in prison, four of which he spent in jail. In 2003, he escaped to neighbouring Nigeria and five years later REDRESS took his case against Cameroon to the UN Human Rights Committee. He has since re-settled in the United States.

Read more about Ebeneezer's case here

Survivors' Stories

Les Walker
British

One thing that really hurt was catching sight of ‘Made in England’ on the handcuffs.

Read more of Les' story

@RedressTrust
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