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

Welcome to the November edition of Reparation News. Please find below a summary of recent case updates, news and publications from REDRESS. This Christmas we are taking part for the first time in The Big Give Christmas Challenge, the UK’s largest matched funding scheme. Any donation you make could be matched and potentially doubled. Your support can make a difference to the lives of torture survivors. If you'd like to get involved, please find more information below or click here.

For the most up-to-date information, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Warm wishes,

Carla Ferstman, Director


 

The Big Give Christmas Challenge 2013

Thank you to everybody who made a pledge – we are pleased to tell you that we reached our pledge target of £1500 and completed the first phase of the Christmas Challenge!

We are now ready to move on to the second stage, where everything you donate could be doubled. The Challenge will start at 10am on 5th December – please add the date to your diaries!

You can find out more by clicking here.

Case updates

Landmark ruling in case of Chilean torture survivor

This month we received a landmark ruling in the case of Leopoldo Lucero Garcia at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the highest court in the Americas. This is the first time the court has decided the case of a living survivor of human rights violations under General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

In its judgment released this month, the Court ordered Chile to finalise a criminal investigation “within a reasonable time” into the alleged torture Mr García Lucero suffered between his arrest and his forced expulsion from the country, and to pay him £20,000 in compensation for moral damages for the “excessive delay” in opening an investigation into his case and his inability to date to access certain reparations in Chile.

Mr Garcia and his wife as well as our Director, Carla Ferstman, were in a panel discussing the case at the University of Essex on November 19 as part of the University's Latin America week, which you can read about here.

Go to his case docket here and read our press release here (Español) (English)

Read the ruling here (Español), listen to an interview with him on BBC Newshour here (he is on at 34:20) and read an article about the case in the Guardian here. Mr Garcia also discusses his feelings about the ruling in an op-ed in the Guardian


 

Torture and ill-treatment by the Border Security Forces in India 

REDRESS and our partner MASUM have written to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture in connection with the longstanding pattern of serious human rights violations, particularly torture and ill-treatment, committed with impunity by the Border Security Forces personnel in the West Bengal region of India.

MASUM has filed hundreds of complaints before the state and national authorities and the National Human Rights Commission of India in respect of these alleged violations. None of these complaints have resulted in the prosecution of the perpetrators. Our submission includes a selection of 10 ongoing cases, which represent a small number of the many victims of past and present abuses.

Read our submission here


 

REDRESS seeks leave to intervene before Guantanamo military commission

REDRESS has sought leave to intervene before the US military commission in the case of Mustafa al-Hawsawi, currently facing capital charges at Guantanamo Bay. He has been held by US authorities since 2003, and was held in secret for more than three years before his detention was acknowledged by US authorities. Under current military commission rules, anything Mr al-Hawsawi says on his period of secret detention, ill-treatment or torture is classified. REDRESS has requested leave to intervene in the case to show how this denies him the opportunity to complain about the treatment he has received, in violation of the UN Convention against Torture. 

For further information and submissions in the case, click here


 

Submission on behalf of Briton tortured in Sudan 

REDRESS is acting for a British national who was held in detention without charge in Sudan between February and May 2011. Throughout his period of detention Mr Magdy Moustafa El-Baghdady alleges that he was precluded from contacting his family, the British embassy or a lawyer. He says he was held in overcrowded prison cells without adequate access to food, water or toilet facilities. While held at Kober prison, he says he was subject to mock execution and witnessed children and adults being beaten. Mr El-Baghdadys also alleges that he was himself subjected to beatings and eventually released in May 2011.The British government has been urging the Sudanese authorities to investigate our client's allegations. However, the Sudanese authorities have only confirmed that our client was arrested while in Sudan. The British government has not been informed of any investigative steps that have been taken. On 25 October 2013, REDRESS filed a complaint against Sudan at the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights requesting that the Commission investigate our client's allegations.

Read our submission here


 

REDRESS intervenes on state immunity before Supreme Court of Canada

REDRESS has continued its involvement in the case of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist tortured to death in Iran in 2003, now on appeal to Canada's highest Court. REDRESS was granted leave to intervene on the extent to which foreign state officials may benefit from state immunity. REDRESS filed its submission on 14 November 2013, arguing that international law demands personal responsibility for those who commit torture, and that state immunity should be no bar to such proceedings. REDRESS is represented pro bono by Norton Rose Fulbright.

Find our submission here

Advocacy work

REDRESS advocates for victim's rights before ICC member states

From 20-28 November, civil society are joining International Criminal Court's member states in The Hague, the Netherlands, for the 12th Assembly of States Parties, the ICC's governing body. The Assembly will decide on a number of issues central to the Court's operations, including its 2014 budget, the election of a new judge and other officials, state cooperation as well as victims’ issues. REDRESS will be actively engaging with delegates and closely monitoring the sessions, in particular, those related to victims. Mariana Goetz, Deputy Director, will be speaking as an expert at the Session's Plenary on "Reaffirming the Victims' Mandate of the ICC" on Friday 22 November (10.00 am -13.00 pm). REDRESS will also be holding a side event with Avocats Sans Frontieres on victims' rights to participation on Friday (13.00 pm -15.00 pm).

Read the Victims Rights Working Group recommendations to the ASP in English or in Français.

Read the VRWG ACCESS Bulletin in English or in Français.

 


 

REDRESS defends Bahraini victims of torture and statelessness

REDRESS attended a meeting in the House of Lords on 5 November called by Lord Eric Avebury to highlight the plight of 31 Bahrainis who last year were stripped of their nationality. Most of them are now stateless, including two former MPs who have sought asylum in the UK and were present at the meeting. REDRESS spoke about the complaints it has lodged with the Special Rapporteur on Torture for four Bahraini torture survivors presently in London. Some of our concerns were highlighted by the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), which recently published its report on the UK's foreign policy on Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Find REDRESS’ submission to the FAC here

See the FAC Report here and REDRESS' Press Release here


 

REDRESS and partners pressure EU for more effective investigation and prosecution of international crimes

REDRESS and a number of civil society partners have begun a new initiative to enhance the EU’s engagement on combating impunity for international crimes. After convening a meeting in Brussels on 24 September 2013 to discuss the role which the EU could play in enhancing justice for international crimes, REDRESS and partners wrote a letter to the national contact points of the EU Genocide Network and presented the initiative at a meeting of the Network on 29 October, where it was strongly endorsed. The Network coordinates the efforts of national authorities in Europe to investigate and prosecute international crimes.

Read our full letter here

Reports and publications

Response to the UK Government's legal aid proposals

We responded to the Government's latest revisions to its proposals to cut legal aid. We noted that these proposals would still restrict access to justice for various categories of torture survivors, both inside and outside the UK. In our response, we also highlighted that the revisions fail to fulfill rights to redress set out by the UN Committee Against Torture and protections enshrined through rulings of the European Court of Human Rights.

Read our response here

Conferences and workshops

Conference on victims and witnesses of international crimes

The Hague, Netherlands, 28-30 October

REDRESS and its partner organisations FIDH, TRIAL and ECCHR, with the support of the EU Genocide Network Secretariat, organised a conference which discussed ways to enhance opportunities for victims and witnesses to participate in investigations and prosecutions of international crimes, and to contribute to successful prosecutions of suspected perpetrators. The conference was attended by specialised police, prosecutors and investigators, immigration authorities, civil society and other experts.


 

Outreach to asylum seekers and torture survivors

Glasgow, Scotland, 30 October

REDRESS attended a meeting organised by Freedom From Torture (FFT) to explain our casework programmes to Scottish solicitors and others involved in asylum work. FFT stressed the importance of obtaining specialised medical-legal reports in torture cases, while REDRESS gave details of the possible avenues open to survivors in Scotland who wish to seek reparation from states abroad which tortured them. This is part of our outreach to torture survivors living outside of the London area.


 

REDRESS shares its expertise on international pro bono projects

Warsaw, Poland, 25 October

Our Deputy Director, Mariana Goetz, spoke at the European Pro Bono Forum on a seminar that showcased Mariana’s experience in international pro bono projects with REDRESS.


 

REDRESS discusses compensation for enforced disappearance

Florence, Italy, 24 October

Sarah Fulton, our International Legal Officer, spoke at the Antonio Cassese Workshop on Enforced Disappearance at the prestigious European University Institute in Florence. She spoke on the reasons that financial compensation may not be enough to redress the wrong done to victims in cases of enforced disappearance.


 

REDRESS represented in the Gambia

Banjul, The Gambia 18-20 October

Human rights organisations from across Africa met at an NGO forum in Banjul, The Gambia, to identify pressing human rights concerns that the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights were to address at its 54th Session on 22 October. The participants discussed the right to reparation for victims of human rights violations in Africa during a panel organised by REDRESS together with the Center for the Study of Violence and the International Federation for Human Rights. In addition, REDRESS, together with ACJPS, Sudan Consortium and IRRI, FIDH, EHAHRDP and HRW organised a side event on fostering compliance with African Commission recommendations and concluding observations on Sudan.

REDRESS in the media

 

17 November 2013 - Sunday Post, Iraqi torture claims cost MoD millions.


 

11 November 2013 - BBC, Outlook, An interview with our client Leopoldo García Lucero on at 27:10. Mr Garcia talks to the BBC World Service about his torture and exile from Chile by the Pinochet dictatorship.


 

10 November 2013 - The Guardian’s Comment is Free, Money won't compensate me for my torture in Chile. In this op-ed ed for The Guardian, our client Leopoldo García Lucero gives a moving account of what his life has been like since he was tortured in Chile and what his landmark legal victory means to him.


 

4 November 2013 - The Guardian, Chile ordered to pay £20,000 to compensate Pinochet torture victim. The Guardian's Legal Affairs Correspondent Owen Bowcott writes about Mr Garcia's trial and highlights REDRESS' role in ensuring justice for him.


 

4 November 2013 - Cooperativa.cl, Víctima de torturas: Cada vez que me afeito veo a Pinochet (Español). One of the most important national radio stations in Chile interviews our client Leopoldo García Lucero.


 

2 November 2013 - BBC, the Newshour programme, Interviews with Director Carla Ferstman and our client Leopoldo García Lucero on at 34:20. Our director and Mr Garcia are interviewed by the BBC World Service's flagship international news and current affairs programme.


 

2 November 2013 - The Independent, Chilean exile wins landmark compensation for torture under Pinochet dictatorship


 

2 November 2013 - 2 Nov 2013 - BBC News, Chilean exile wins compensation over Pinochet-era torture. A BBC Latin America arcticle that includes a video of Mr Garcia being interviewed.


 

2 November 2013 - El País, Condena pionera a Chile por la demora en investigar las torturas de la dictadura.


 

27 September 2013 - BBC World Service, Chilean's quest for justice after Pinochet-era torture (Click here to be redirected to our Multimedia section, where you can find the audio of the interview). 

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