Clara Sandoval Villalba and Lorna McGregor, REDRESS
REDRESS is a human rights organisation that helps torture survivors obtain justice and reparation. REDRESS works with survivors to help restore their dignity and to make torturers accountable.
- To obtain justice for survivors of torture
- To hold accountable the governments and individuals who perpetrate torture
- To develop the means of ensuring compliance with international standards and securing remedies for victims
- Casework – providing legal assistance to individuals and communities in securing their rights
- Advocacy – with governments, parliaments, international organisations and the media
- Capacity Building – working in partnership with like-minded organisations around the world
REDRESS prioritises the interests and perspectives of survivors in all aspects of its work. The highest priority in decisions and interventions is given to promoting survivors’ well-being and the avoidance of further traumatisation.
Following his release in 1984, Keith Carmichael, a torture survivor, consulted those with extensive experience in human rights, law and non-governmental organizations about how to go about seeking reparation for torture. He also met with over 90 other survivors many of whom, like him, wanted to seek redress but did not know how to go about it. While existing NGOs helped survivors in other ways - by campaigning for their release, providing safe havens and medical care - none assisted them to obtain reparation. While the right to reparation existed in law, the practical difficulties in obtaining reparation proved difficult to overcome.
Keith Carmichael developed the concept for REDRESS in consultation with four persons in particular: the late Peter Davies OBE, former Director of Anti-Slavery International, Dame Rosalyn Higgins QC, Leah Levin, former Director of Justice, and Professor David Weissbrodt of the University of Minnesota, who shared the same interest in seeking ways of obtaining reparation for victims of torture. In 1990, a concept paper for a new initiative, REDRESS - a programme to focus on the right of torture survivors to reparation and to assist them to seek a remedy - was circulated.
The idea was discussed further at the IV International Symposium on Torture and the Medical Profession held in October 1991 in Budapest, and again at the Symposium on Human Rights and Development in December 1991 in Manila. Among others, Eric Sottas, Director of OMCT/SOS-Torture, Professor Bent Sorensen, and Dr Inge Gnefke, participated in the discussion. The conclusion was that there was a need for such a specialised organisation and an action programme should be developed. Keith Carmichael established REDRESS which was registered as a charity in the UK in December 1992.