Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
April 2013
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Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to our April 2013 edition of Reparation News. Please find below a summary of recent case updates, news and publications from REDRESS. We hope you find this resource useful. For the most up-to-date information, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Warm wishes,

Dadimos Haile, Interim Director


 

Ntaganda's surrender: An opportunity to deliver justice to victims in DRC

On 26 March, almost seven years after the International Criminal Court issued its first arrest warrant against him, the former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda first appeared before the Court. Ntaganda, who was the subject of two ICC arrest warrants since 2006, voluntarily handed himself into the US embassy in Rwanda earlier in March and requested to be transferred to the Court. The ICC issued the first arrest warrant against him for the war crime of recruiting and using child soldiers during the conflict in Ituri, in eastern DRC, from 2002 to 2003. The second was issued, for the same period, for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including attacks against a civilian population, pillaging, rape and sexual slavery. Since 2003, Ntaganda has reportedly been involved in scores of similar crimes. REDRESS is urging the ICC Prosecutor to investigate all the crimes allegedly committed by armed groups linked to Ntaganda, in particular, the CNDP and the M23, as well as his role within the Congolese Armed Forces, and to consider whether to bring additional charges against him. "The ICC cannot miss this opportunity to ensure that the full scale of crimes and victimisation is represented," said Dadimos Haile, REDRESS' Interim Director. The beginning of the confirmation of charges hearing has been set for 23 September 2013.

Read our press release

Read more about the case

Photo of Bosco Ntaganda during his initial appearance before the ICC/ICC-CPI.

Case updates

Inter-American Court hears case of Chilean torture survivor

The highest human rights court in the Americas heard the landmark case of a torture survivor from Pinochet-era Chile and his family. The hearings in the case coincided with the year of the 40th anniversary of the coup led by General Pinochet. Leopoldo García Lucero, who is represented by REDRESS, was arbitrarily arrested in 1973, shortly after the coup that removed democratically-elected President Allende from power. García Lucero spent 20 months in concentration camps, where he was tortured. During his imprisonment and torture, he lost his teeth and became disabled. In 1975, Pinochet's government exiled him along with other prisoners. García Lucero and his family left all their loved ones and possessions behind when they were forced into exile in the UK. Since democracy returned to Chile in 1990, the Chilean government has made attempts to investigate past atrocities and provide reparations to some victims, but nobody has ever been prosecuted for what happened to them. During hearings on 20 and 21 March, REDRESS argued that García Lucero has not received adequate reparation that takes into account his specific status as an exiled survivor with a permanent disability and the harm suffered by his family. REDRESS first brought the case before the Inter-American Commission in 2002 and a ruling by the Inter-American Court is expected in the next few months. 

Read our press release

Lea nuestro comunicado de prensa en español

Read more about the case

Photo of Leopoldo García Lucero.


 

Zimbabwe responsible for torture of human rights lawyer

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, the leading human rights body in Africa, has found Zimbabwe's government responsible for the torture and ill-treatment of Gabriel Shumba, a well-known human rights defender from Zimbabwe. This is the first time in its 26-year history that the African Commission has held Zimbabwe responsible for torture. It considered that Shumba had submitted enough evidence to support its allegation of torture and ill-treatment, including being subjected to prolongued electric shocks in the mouth, genitals, fingers and other parts of the body. It ordered Zimbabwe to pay Shumba adequate compensation for the torture and trauma caused to him, and to bring those responsible for torturing him to justice. "This important ruling adds to Africa's struggle against impunity," said Shumba, who has been living in South Africa since 2003 for fear of his life. REDRESS helped him substantiate his claim. The Commission rendered its decision in 2012, but Shumba was informed of it in March 2013. 

Read our press release

Read more about the case 

Advocacy work

States must end impunity for grave crimes against women

On International Women's Day on 8 March the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, of which REDRESS is part, called for governments to ensure greater protection for women from sexual and gender based violence through the Rome Statute system. The Coalition urged states to promote and protect women's rights by ratifying the Rome Statute and by implementing its landmark gender provisions at the national level. Dadimos Haile, Interim Director of REDRESS, said: "Women and girls are disproportionally affected by sexual violence and other crimes during armed conflict. They continue to be affected in innumerable ways long after atrocities are committed, in terms of physical and psychological trauma. They are stigmatised by families and communities and are unable to seek justice and reparation due to endemic discrimination. We welcome the commitment of new ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to make the suffering of women and girls a top priority of her office.”

Read the press release

Photo of women in Liberia celebrating International Women's Day/UN Photo by Staton Winter.


 

UN resolution on redress for victims of torture passed

On 22 March 2013, the UN Human Rights Council adopted without a vote an important resolution on redress for victims of torture. Resolution L.11 calls upon states to provide equal and effective remedy and reparation to victims of torture and ill-treatment. It also encourages states to put victims and their needs at the centre of redress procedures and urges states to pay special attention to the provision of redress for gender-based violence.

New reports and publications

Comments to the ICC Trust Fund for Victims on reparation

On 21 March, REDRESS addressed the ICC Trust Fund for Victims' Board of Directors in The Hague in light of the Court's first reparations decision in the Lubanga case. The focus of our intervention was on the Trust Fund's mandate in relation to reparation. REDRESS also submitted written observations to the Board. It noted that whichever form reparation takes, the linkage with the justice process should be maintained, and reparation be differentiated from humanitarian assistance and development, which should never be seen as a substitute for redress. In addition, REDRESS urged the Trust Fund to consider how to ensure a fair, accessible and victim-centered process to assess the full extent of the harm to be repaired and which does not leave out any victims. This is a key concern taking into consideration the narrow charges pursued by the Prosecutor in the case. REDRESS also strongly believes that financial constraints should not come into play in the early stages of identifying the scope of beneficiaries and harm to be repaired.

Read our observations to the ICC's TFV here

Photo of Thomas Lubanga, courtesy of ICC-CPI/Hans Hordijk.


 

Access to justice for victims of systematic crimes in Africa

In the margins of the NGO Forum preceding the 51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission, lawyers and other experts met in Kololi, The Gambia, last year to discuss victims’ experiences of accessing justice and seeking reparation. Their presentations and discussions form the basis of the paper that we are now presenting. Participants included lawyers and experts from Algeria, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan and Zimbabwe. They explored challenges and potential solutions in accessing justice at the national, sub-regional and international levels. The meeting was organised by REDRESS under the auspices of the Victims Rights Working Group and in collaboration with the Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU), the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS).

Read the report


 

Victims' Rights Working Group's submission on intermediaries

The Victims' Rights Working Group (VRWG) participated in The Hague Working Group meeting that was held on 13 March in The Hague to discuss the role of intermediaries before the International Criminal Court. The meeting brought together civil society and States Parties representatives. The VRWG also submitted written remarks.

Read the VRWG's submission here

Cliquez ici pour lire la soumission du GTDV


 

REDRESS launches Universal Jurisdiction News

REDRESS has just launched Universal Jurisdiction News, a new monthly newsletter which will report on the latest case updates and other legal developments, news and publications related to universal jurisdiction worldwide. To subscribe to this newsletter please contact Tara O'Leary, Universal Jurisdiction Project Coordinator, at tara@redress.org. For more information related to universal jurisdiction, we encourage you to subscribe to the REDRESS Universal Jurisdiction Listserv, where experts and practitioners exchange information related to the latest developments. To join, please send an email to UJ-Info-subscribe@yahoogroups.com.

Read the second issue of UJ News here


 

ICC Victims' Rights Legal Update

The ICC Victims' Rights Legal Update, covering the period from 18 January to 21 March 2013, is now available on the VRWG website. The Legal Update includes unofficial summaries of ICC decisions and related pleadings relevant to victims’ rights issues. Any comments on this Legal Update should be directed to Gaelle Carayon at gaelle@redress.org.

Click here to read the Legal Update

Cliquez ici pour lire la mise à jour juridique

Conferences and workshops

Human Rights Council: Redress for torture victims

Geneva, Switzerland, 8 March: REDRESS' Interim Director Dadimos Haile spoke at this side event entitled 'Ensuring accountability and redress for torture victims: what role for the UN Human Rights Council' at the Palais des Nations. The aim of the event was to identify and address gaps in states' obligation to ensure justice and accountability for victims, and to discuss how the Human Rights Council can redress those gaps. The event was hosted by the World Organisation Against Torture, the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and REDRESS.

UN Photo of Palais des Nations, Geneva.

Thank you for supporting us

Virgin London Marathon 2013

REDRESS is pleased to announce that our team of runners for the London Marathon 2013 is now complete! Amir Arasta, Luke Whiting, Stephen Jones, Dan Hale, Andrew Pears and Ben Freedman will run the marathon on April 21. You can help them raise money for REDRESS' work by sponsoring them through their fundraising pages (click on the runners' name above to be redirected to the pages). If you are a keen runner and were successful in securing a place in the London Marathon ballot, you can still join our team and help raise money for our work, without having to commit to a minimum level of sponsorship. Please contact liliana@redress.org for more information.

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