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

Welcome to the September - October edition of Reparation News. Please find below a summary of recent case updates, news and publications from REDRESS. We are delighted to have also been shortlisted for the prestigious Guardian Charity Awards, which you can read about below. For the most up-to-date information, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Warm wishes,

Carla Ferstman, Director


 

Help REDRESS this October

The Big Give Christmas Challenge

REDRESS has been selected to participate for the first time in the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2013. The Challenge allows for donations from the public to be matched and potentially doubled, maximizing the impact of each individual donation.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we are now half way to meet our pledge target, but we still need 7 people to make a pledge of a £100!

Pledges can be made by the 28 October at the following link: https://secure.thebiggive.org.uk/pledge/redress

REDRESS aims to raise £6,000 during the challenge. Your pledge can make a difference to the lives of torture survivors. 

Guardian Charity Awards 2013!

REDRESS has been shortlisted for the Guardian’s prestigious Charity Awards. For 21 years, these awards have recognised the work of small or medium-sized charities that display excellence in their given fields and “tend to be overshadowed by big players of the voluntary sector”. As the Guardian puts it “in terms of innovation, flexibility and reach into communities, it’s very often the case that small is beautiful”. REDRESS was one of only 30 charities included in this year’s shortlist from over 1,300 nominations. The five winning charities will be announced at an event on Tuesday 3 December in London.

Read more here

Case updates

REDRESS challenges Lithuania over allegations of secret detention and torture

In September, REDRESS and the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) lodged a complaint with the Lithuanian Prosecutor General, alleging that the Lithuanian government may have been complicit in a CIA-led programme of secret rendition, detention and torture. An analysis of publicly available information by REDRESS and HRMI indicates that Mustafa al-Hawsawi, currently an inmate of Guantanamo Bay, may have been secretly held in Lithuania for an unkown period between March 2004 and September 2006. On 27 September the Prosecutor ruled that it would not open an investigation, a decision which REDRESS and HRMI are appealing. On 10 October, the European Parliament passed a resolution urging Lithuania to open an investigation into these claims.

Read our press release

Read the resolution from the EU Parliament here

Photo by B. Hussein Soetoro/Wikimedia Commons.


 

Submission addressing violence in South Kordofan

REDRESS and other partners presented their submission on the merits in their case before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in relation to the protracted violence in South Kordofan, Sudan. The case has been pending before the Commission since July 2011.


  

Bahraini cases submitted to Special Rapporteur

In October REDRESS filed two cases from Bahrain with the Special Rapporteur on Torture, arising from the ill-treatment of human rights activists in that country, particularly during 2011-2012. The two men are now living in the United Kingdom where they have been granted asylum. Both were subjected to serious physical and mental pain, unlawful detention and imprisonment.

Advocacy work

REDRESS represented in The Gambia

From 18-20 October, human rights organisations from across Africa met in Banjul, The Gambia, in an NGO Forum to identify pressing human rights concerns to be addressed by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, which started its 54th Session on 22 October. The participants discussed the right to reparation for victims of human rights violations in Africa during a panel discussion organised by REDRESS together with the Center for the Study of Violence and the International Federation for Human Rights. The Forum adopted a resolution on reparation, which will be presented to the African Commission for its consideration. The African Commission's Session will continue until 5 November.

Read the resolution


 

DRC: Joint submission to the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

REDRESS and its partner Synergie Pour l'Assistance Judiciaire aux Victimes de Violations des Droits Humains au Nord-Kivu (SAJ) have submitted a report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as part of the Universal Periodic Review Process, which considers the challenges and often failings of the DRC justice system to address widespread sexual violence during conflict.

Read our submission here

Photo by Gwen Dubourthaumieu: A rape survivor in DRC. 


 

Second submission to UK legal aid review

Following the UK Government’s announcement of plans to significantly reduce access to legal aid, REDRESS has submitted comments as part of the Government’s consultation. The comments focus on the particular impact of the cuts on access to justice for victims of torture.

Read the submission 


 

UK Foreign Affairs Committee Report

On 17 October the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) released its comments on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s annual report on human rights. The FAC report incorporates several points raised by REDRESS in a written submission to it in May. These include criticism of the Government for not yet having released any details of the preparatory work done by the Detainee Inquiry – now abandoned - into UK alleged complicity in torture of detainees after 9/11 nor having done anything yet to initiate a fresh inquiry. REDRESS and other NGOs were strongly critical of this inquiry. REDRESS has repeatedly called on the Government to publish the Inquiry’s findings and to deal with the NGOs’ criticisms, so that any future inquiry does not have the same shortcomings. The FAC has now added its voice to these concerns.

Read the FAC report here

Read our submission to the FAC

Read our press release


 

Victims’ right to review decisions not to prosecute

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has held a public consultation on its Victims Right to Review Interim Guidance. In June the Guidance was published, setting out how a victim can ask for a review of a CPS decision not to prosecute without having to seek a judicial review. The consultation ended on 5 September and REDRESS made submissions concerning victims of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and torture. 

Read our submission here


 

ICC should have greater commitment to victims

The Victims' Rights Working Group (VRWG), a network of over 300 national and international civil society groups and experts which advocates for victims’ rights before the ICC, has submitted comments on a draft resolution on victims and reparation that will be adopted by the Assembly of States Parties in November. The Assembly of States Parties is the oversight body of the ICC. The VRWG recommends that the importance of victims to the Court's proceedings be further acknowledged, reflecting a greater commitment to victims and victims' issues. It also opposes language suggesting the implementation of a collective approach to reparations, noting that it should be up to judges to decide upon whether reparations should be individual, collective, or both. REDRESS also attended a meeting of civil society groups and states parties to the ICC on 5 September in The Hague, where victim participation at the ICC was discussed.

See the VRWG comments here 


 

Advocacy briefing on Sudan’s Immunity Laws

REDRESS has just published its second Sudan Law Reform Advocacy Briefing. This briefing focuses on immunities for officials, which has been a matter of long-standing concern.

Read it here 

Reports and publications

Reaching for justice – The Right to Reparation in the African Human Rights System

The report explains how regional human rights mechanisms, in particular the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, play a key part in upholding rights of victims, including the right to reparation. The report finds that the African Commission has made significant progress, yet more could be done to ensure “a holistic, victim centred approach on reparation for victims of gross human rights violations in Africa”.

Read our report here


 

REDRESS for Rape - Using International Jurisprudence on Rape as a Form of Torture and other Ill-Treatment

REDRESS for Rape reports on the use of rape as an instrument of torture and ill-treatment. The past two decades have seen a significant change in the classification of rape - the international community now locate it as a crime of the highest order. States therefore have the responsibility to prevent and respond to it and survivors of rape are entitled to the same level of protection and response as any other victim of violence. The report brings together the developing international human rights law and significant writings on the issue in order to assist those looking to make a link between rape and other forms of ill-treatment.

Read the report here


 

Justice for Torture Worldwide

This report was written as a response to the difficulty of sharing strategies and best practices on the prosecution of torture. As torture law requires domestic avenues to be explored first, it is rare for those working on torture cases in different countries to come together and share their expertise and experience. The report therefore tries to provide tools to enable lawyers and others concerned with such issues to realise victims' rights to reparation. This global report draws on three years of research and builds on comparative research, advocacy and litigation.

Read the report here


 

Torture in the Middle East: The Law and Practice

This report examines the challenges of preventing torture in the Middle East and North Africa region, particularly in light of the Arab Spring. These range from structural problems, including weak institutions and lack of respect for the rule of law, to more specific challenges, such as the prevalence of terrorism in the region and political marginalisation of minority groups. It therefore recognises the need for interventions by human rights lawyers and civil society on these issues.

Read the report here


 

October Universal Jurisdiction Newsletter

The October Universal Jurisdiction Newsletter is now out. This looks at recent updates across the world in cases where states or international organizations have taken steps to prosecute an alleged crime under international law, regardless of the nationality or country of residence of the accused. This month it looks at cases from across Europe, Africa, North and South America. 

Read it here

Conferences and workshops

Seminar on victim and witness assistance

The Hague, the Netherlands, 28 October

REDRESS and its partner organisations the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) will hold a seminar with the Secretariat of the EU Genocide Network. The seminar will look at how to best work with victims, witnesses and survivors of international crimes to successfully investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators.

Photo by RS Chacon: An estimated 800,000 people were killed during the Rwandan Genocide.


 

EU efforts in the fight against impunity

Brussels, Belgium, 23 September

REDRESS convened a meeting of civil society and experts to discuss the current status of EU efforts in the fight against impunity for international crimes. While progress has been made in recent years, much remains to be done to investigate and prosecute suspected perpetrators who continue to live within EU borders.


 

Introducing REDRESS

London, UK, 19 September

REDRESS  hosted a roundtable at our offices in London on 19 September which brought a range of London-based groups together to discuss ways of working co-operatively and to explain REDRESS’ own work with torture survivors. On 26 September, REDRESS also partnered with Freedom from Torture to take part in a roundtable discussing our work, and looking at ways we can partner with civil society groups in the Newcastle area.


 

The Truth and Justice process in Peru

Lima, Peru, 11-12 September

The Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) and REDRESS held a national workshop on strengthening the capacity of stakeholders in relation to the truth and justice process and dealing with abuses committed in the context of social protests. This is the third of a series of national workshops organised in Peru within the framework of our three year project “Reparation for Torture: Global Sharing of Expertise” supported by the EU. The workshop brought together lawyers, civil society experts and justice sector actors to discuss issues relating to reparations for torture and ill-treatment.


 

Workshop on Victims’ Rights in Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya, 27-28 August

REDRESS, in partnership with the local NGO Kituo Cha Sheria, organised a two-day workshop on victims’ rights and domestic accountability in Kenya. Participants included representatives of civil society organisations working with victims of 2007-2008 post-election violence from all regions. This provided an opportunity to discuss strategies to strengthen victims’ rights to justice and reparation.

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