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

Welcome to our August 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 infomation, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Warm wishes,

Carla Ferstman, Director


 

Case updates

REDRESS challenges state immunity in the case of photojournalist tortured and killed in Iran

REDRESS continued its work on the interplay between state immunity and the prohibition of torture and other ill-treatment in the long-running case of Kazemi v Iran, currently before the Canadian courts. The case, concerning civil damages for the torture and killing of Canadian-Iranian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, has now been accepted on appeal by the Supreme Court of Canada. REDRESS, represented pro bono by Norton Rose Fulbright, intervened in the Court of Appeal proceedings, and last week requested to intervene in this final appeal before the Supreme Court. Ms Kazemi was arrested during a visit to Iran in 2003 while taking photographs of a protest outside Evin prison, noted for having held numerous political prisoners over the years. While in detention, she was interrogated, beaten, sexually assaulted and tortured.

Read more about the case

Photo credit Ziba Kazemi Foundation.


 

Limitation periods should not apply to torture cases, REDRESS argues in Strasbourg

In late July REDRESS was allowed by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in a case on the application of limitation periods to prosecutions for torture and other ill-treatment.  The case - Mocanu & Ors v Romania - raises issues about the impact of a victim's delay in bringing a complaint about beatings by state officials. Our submission sets out international standards and comparative jurisprudence on the criminalisation of torture and other ill-treatment, the psychological effects of such treatment, and statutes of limitation in relation to such crimes. 

Read more about the case and see our submission


 

Inter-American Court to rule on landmark reparation claim from Chilean torture survivor

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights is expected to give judgment soon on a landmark reparation claim by a Chilean torture survivor who is a client of REDRESS. The Court will deliberate on the case of Leopoldo García Lucero - a 79-year-old Allende ally - during its next period of sessions, from 19 August to 6 September. In March, the Americas’ highest court heard testimony from Mr Garcia, who recalled his imprisonment, torture and forced exile to the UK after being arrested during the military coup that ousted the democratically elected President Allende from power on 11 September 1973, 40 years ago this year. 

Watch Leopoldo García Lucero testify (Spanish)

Read more about the case 


 

REDRESS brings to the attention of UN officials torture of MP from Bahrain 

Jawad Fairooz was a member of Parliament in Bahrain from 2006 to 2011. After withdrawing from the Council of Representatives in protest at the response of Bahraini state authorities to large-scale protests in Bahrain in February 2011, Mr Fairooz was arrested by three masked and hooded men and held in solitary confinement for over 43 days. During this time he was subjected to blindfolding, stress positions, beatings, sexual assault and humiliating acts and insults constituting torture and ill-treatment. He was handed a suspended prison sentence thereafter. Mr Fairooz has also been unilaterally stripped of his Bahraini citizenship, in violation of international law. REDRESS has written to UN special rapporteurs and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to bring his case to the attention of the Bahraini authorities.

Read the allegation letter 

Protection of victims is paramount in Ruto and Sang case before the ICC

On 15 July, the International Criminal Court announced that the trial against William Ruto, the current Deputy President of Kenya and Joshua Sang, head of operations at Kass FM Kenya, jointly accused of violence following Kenya’s 2007 presidential election, will be held in The Hague, rejecting requests from both that hearings be conducted in Kenya or Tanzania instead. REDRESS and partner Kituo Cha Sheria welcomed the judges’ decision as it resonates with the majority of victims’ concerns about their own security if the trial were held locally. The trial is scheduled to open on 10 September. The accused face charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, forcible transfer of population, persecution and other inhumane acts.

Read our press release

Photo credit ICC-CPI: William Ruto.

Advocacy work

CEDAW echoes REDRESS' concerns on DRC

On 23 July, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) delivered its final observations on the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. REDRESS had submitted a report to the Committee highlighting a series of concerns relating to access to justice for women, including the pervasive impunity for rape and other serious crimes of sexual violence; the lack of adequate and effective remedies for victims; the inadequate legal framework to address mass rape and the lack of protection for victims, witnesses and lawyers. In its observations, the Committee echoed most of our concerns and recommended, among other measures, the establishment of a comprehensive national policy to provide adequate reparations to victims of sexual crimes.

Read CEDAW's conclusions

Read REDRESS' submission to CEDAW

Photo by Kate Holt/IRIN: A woman recovers from rape in a hospital in Goma, DRC. Sexual violence has been used during the conflict.


 

Sudan Act risks fostering further abuses

On 24 July our Project for Criminal Law Reform in Sudan (PCLRS) examined in detail the recent amendments to the Armed Forces Act, which envisages subjecting civilians to the jurisdiction of military courts. It found that this act is incompatible with Sudan’s international human rights treaty obligations and risks fostering further human rights violations. A submission was made to different UN and African Commission mandate holders, asking them to raise the matter urgently with the Government of Sudan.

Read our submission

Visit the Project for Criminal Law Reform in Sudan


 

Briefing to UN Human Rights Committee on Sudan

The Sudanese Human Rights Monitor, the Africa Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, FIDH and REDRESS have submitted this briefing for consideration by the UN Human Rights Committee in the Committee’s examination of Sudan’s implemention of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The 109th session of the Committee will take place from 14 October to 1 November. The organisations believe that the concerns highlighted in this briefing are underpinned by serious ongoing human rights violations in conflict and non-conflict setttings in Sudan, a deep-rooted culture of impunity, a weak rule of law and the failure of the Sudanese authorities to fully guarantee the absolute prohibition against torture.

Read our briefing

Conferences and workshops

Fundamental rights and freedoms in times of crisis

London, UK, 8 August

REDRESS' Counsel Lutz Oette participated in a conference entitled "Though the heavens may fall let justice be done? Protecting democracy, fundamental rights and freedoms in times of crisis" at the School of Oriental and African Studies. The discussion focused on the role of judges in times of national stress, and invited viewpoints from three sectors of the legal profession: judges, practitioners and academics. The event concluded with a screening of the award-winning documentary The Law in These Parts, which questions the legitimacy of the Israeli military legal system in the Occupied Territories.


 

Global Perspectives on Justice for Torture

London, UK, 2 August

REDRESS organised this one-day seminar in collaboration with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) Centre for Human Rights Law. The seminar brought together lawyers and civil society experts with experience in assisting torture survivors, to discuss issues relating to justice for torture. Panellists shared their insights and experiences in relation to the prohibition of torture and examined strategies to overcome challenges faced by survivors in accessing justice and to tackle the problem of impunity.

See the full agenda


 

Panel on human rights in South Asia

London, UK, 1 August

REDRESS and the SOAS Centre for Human Rights Law organised a panel discussion entitled The struggle for human rights in South Asia: Perspectives from India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The speakers were Bijo Francis, Executive Director of the Asian Legal Resources Centre (ALRC); Hari Tripathi, Executive Director of Advocacy Forum Nepal; Basil Fernando, Director for Policy and Programme Development, ALRC; and Ingrid Massage, Human Rights Consultant.

Read the event notice 

Reports and publications

Manual to file a Communication before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

In August 2013, REDRESS collaborated with a group of civil society organisations working as litigants before the African Commission, to publish this manual. This manual is designed to address the series of challenges that have prevented the Commission from playing a more meaningful role in protecting human rights in Africa. It provides guidance for complainants to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It helps to raise awareness among victims about the Commission’s protective mandate and the procedure in which this mandate can be invoked by victims, organisations and others. It also explains and clarifies the basic procedural steps to follow when submitting complaints to the Commission. 

Download the manual

 

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