Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
February 2015
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Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to our latest 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 and invite you to know more about our work. For the most up-to-date information, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for your continued interest in our work and your support. Please contact us if you have any questions about our work, want to learn more or would like to collaborate with us.

Carla Ferstman, Director


 

Case updates

Complaint to UN experts on behalf of Kurdish rights activist arrested on International Women's Day

REDRESS and Justice for Iran have urged the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to intervene on behalf of a female Kurdish activist who is serving a life sentence in Iran after she was arrested on International Women's Day seven years ago. 

Zeinab Jalalian is currently serving a life sentence in Iran, and is in need of urgent medical care, as she is losing her eyesight in prison, as a result of torture she sustained. In 2008, Mrs Jalalian was sentenced to death for "enmity against God" (moharebeh) in a trial that lasted a few minutes. She was accused of being a member of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), an armed opposition group, which she denies, and was convicted despite not having access to a lawyer and the lack of any evidence about her participation in any armed activities. Her death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment. She says she was tortured in detention.

One of her last activities as an activist was giving a speech about the importance of women’s rights and International Women’s Day at Iranian girls’ high school Bent-ol-Hoda in Kamiaran, where she distributed flowers to the students. Mrs Jalalian has been the subject of several international campaigns, including an appeal for urgent action from Amnesty International last year.

On 5 March 2015, our organisations urged the UN experts to call on Iran to grant her a new trial that complies with international standards, including disregarding any evidence obtained under torture or ill-treatment; to ensure that she is protected from further torture and ill-treatment and that she receives the urgent medical care that she needs.

Read our press release

Read the submission


 

Fight for victims of human rights abuses continues in Sudan 

In the midst of an increasing government crackdown on civil society and human rights groups in Sudan, in February REDRESS and other rights groups welcomed an important decision by Africa's main human rights body on behalf of three human rights defenders in a case supported by these organisations.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights' decision, published on 13 February 2015, called on Sudan to investigate and prosecute the security and intelligence officials alleged to be responsible for the arbitrary arrest, torture and ill-treatment of three prominent human rights defenders; to reopen a Sudanese NGO that was closed in relation to the arrests, and to pay them compensation.  

The decision arises from a complaint made to the African Commission by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT), which was supported by REDRESS, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

The complaint was filed on behalf of human rights defenders Amir Suliman, Monim Elgak and the late Osman Hummaida, who were targeted in 2008 for their supposed cooperation with the International Criminal Court in the pending case against the President of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir, for international crimes committed in Sudan's Darfur region. The human rights defenders were eventually forced to leave Sudan due to the inaction of the Sudanese government and for fear of reprisals. They turned to the ACHPR in 2009 and, in 2012, the Commission admitted their complaint, agreeing that the Sudanese justice system prevented them from obtaining redress in Sudan.

The decision is crucial as it recognises Sudan’s obligation to protect human rights defenders and to ensure the valuable work they do to promote and protect the rights of others is not hindered. 

Activists facing stiff penalties in national security trial

One of the cases that showcases the difficulties currently faced by civil society groups is that concerning two well-known activists, distinguished human rights lawyer Dr. Amin Mekki Medani and political activist Mr Farouq Abu Eissa, who are currently on trial on national security charges that could lead to life imprisonment.

Both men were arrested on 6 December 2014 by the Sudanese intelligence and security services, after having signed the “Sudan Call”, which committed the co-signatories to work to end the conflicts raging in Sudan and establish a “State of Citizenship and Democracy” to pave the way for legal, institutional and economic reforms. 

Last month, REDRESS and rights groups ACJPS, FIDH and OMCT filed a complaint on their behalf to the African Commission, to call on Sudan to ensure their prompt release. The trial against them started on 23 February 2015. We are extremely concerned about their well-being, as both men have health issues and are of an advanced age: Dr. Medani is 75 and Mr Abu Eissa is 81.

Both men have been charged under the 1991 Criminal Act and the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act. They are facing trial before a court established under the anti-terrorism law that fails to meet fair trial guarantees.

Complaint on behalf of human rights lawyer 

On 20 February 2015, REDRESS and other rights groups also filed a complaint on behalf of of Abdel Moneem Adam Mohammed, a human rights lawyer who was arrested in March last year after providing legal aid to students who had been arrested and detained after demonstrations at Khartoum University. He was detained from 11 March until 8 April 2014, most of the time incommunicado. REDRESS, ACJPS and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP) are urging the Commission to examine allegations that Sudan violated several of his rights under the African Charter, including his right to be free from torture and ill-treatment, right to liberty and security, and right of freedom of expression.

Read our press release on the ACPHR

Link to the ACPHR decision

Read our press release on Dr Medani and Mr Eissa case

Read more about Abdel Moneem Adam Mohammed


 

Intervention on behalf of Iranian man targeted for his sexual orientation 

REDRESS has filed a complaint to the Special Rapporteur on the situation in Iran on behalf of an Iranian man who suffered multiple violations of his rights, including being subjected to torture and ill-treatment, due to the systematic discrimination and lack of protection of LGBTI people in Iran.

The victim, currently a refugee in the UK, was arrested and detained on several occasions in Iran, as a result of engaging in homosexual sex. In detention, he was subjected to severe beatings, interrogations and verbal abuse and held in solitary confinement. In 2009, he was arrested after attending a party and convicted in court of "facilitating immorality", as well as for possessing and drinking alcohol, and sentenced to eighty lashes. He was also given seventy lashes after another arrest.

REDRESS has requested the Special Rapporteur to urge Iran to comply with its obligations under international law, including initiating a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into the events; provide adequate compensation to the victim; annul his conviction and expunge his criminal record, and undertake a thorough review of its legislation to bring the domestic laws in line with Iran's obligations under international law. 


  

Ethiopia: REDRESS and Reprieve call for the repatriation of opposition figure

In February, REDRESS and fellow human rights organisation Reprieve submitted a complaint to the African Commission on behalf of Andaragachew Tsege, calling on Ethiopia to release and return him to the UK.

Mr Tsege, who is a UK citizen and a prominent figure in Ethiopian politics, was in transit at Sana'a airport in Yemen while travelling on a flight from Dubai to Eritrea on 23 June 2014. He was abducted by what is believed to be Yemeni intelligence officers on the orders of the Ethiopian government, and was handed over to Ethiopia. His whereabouts remained unknown for two weeks after his abduction and he has remained in incommunicado detention in an unknown location in Ethiopia ever since.

Mr Tsege has not had access to a lawyer or to independent medical treatment. We are gravely concerned for his safety as he was previously persecuted in Ethiopia due to his political activism, and was previously sentenced to death in an in absentia trial, and had to seek asylum in the UK in 1979.

Read more about the case 

Advocacy work

At long last, reparations for victims can now proceed in first ICC case

Last week, REDRESS welcomed the news that the process for delivering much needed reparations to the child soldiers used by Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, and others affected by his crimes, would finally move forward, after the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled on the appeals on the reparations decision.

The Appeals Chamber amended the Trial Chamber’s ruling of 7 August 2012 and established the minimum elements required of a reparations order and clarified the principles governing reparations to victims. It also ordered the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) to present a draft plan for collective reparations to a newly constituted Trial Chamber no later than six months from the date of the ruling.

The Appeals Chamber also found that reparations needed to be made against the convicted person and only for the crimes he was convicted of. Furthermore, it underscored that a convicted person’s liability for reparations must be proportionate to the harm caused and, inter alia, his or her participation in the commission of the crimes for which he or she was found guilty, in the specific circumstances of the case.

“This crucial finding highlights that how much money a convicted person has should not determine what reparations should be owed to the victims: reparations is indelibly connected to and should reflect the harm suffered by victims. This is important as a matter of law and because it will go far in acknowledging the vast suffering of the victims,” said Carla Ferstman, REDRESS’ Director. 

Read our full statement here

Photo: Commencement of the trial against Thomas Lubanga ©ICC-CPI/Michael Kooren.


  

Victory in Nepal: Supreme court rejects amnesty for perpetrators 

On 26 February 2015, ​Nepal's Supreme Court rejected the possibility of an amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights abuses. The Supreme Court indicated that the amnesty provisions in the law on the Commission on Investigation of Disappeared Persons, Truth and Reconciliation Act 2014 (TRC Act) promulgated last May 2014 were unlawful. More than 200 war victims petitioned the Supreme Court, which led to this recent landmark decision. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights commended the Nepal judiciary for upholding the law and the rights of victims.

REDRESS, together with Advocacy Forum and TRIAL, had issued extensive commentary criticizing the amnesty provisions.

Read our full commentary here


  

Comments to the Registrar in relation to the ICC ReVision project 

REDRESS has provided input on the Registrar’s ReVision project as it relates to victims' rights before the International Criminal Court. Following the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) mandate for the Registrar to reorganize and streamline their organizational structure and operations, the Registrar launched a "ReVision project" to be completed in June 2015. Our comments focus on those aspects of the project that relate to the victims’ mandate of the Registry. 

REDRESS welcomes the Registrar's commitment to providing better support in the field, closer to victims and affected communities. However, we encourage the Registry to seek and take into account the views of those directly benefiting from the Registry's services when determining how victims' functions undertaken in the field are to be performed. In order to do this the Registry should consider using planned field missions over the coming months to gather additional information from victims and intermediaries.

You can read our full comments here


 

UK Detention Inquiry report released

Last week, a cross-party group of MPs and Peers recommended that the next UK government should introduce a maximum time limit of 28 days on the length of time anyone can be detained in immigration detention. The call came after they released an anticipated report on 5 March 2015, following a joint inquiry into the use of immigration detention in the UK by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees and the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration.

The inquiry, which was held over several months, also found that the UK uses detention “disproportionately frequently, resulting in too many instances of detention" and that the UK should stop detaining women who are victims of rape and sexual violence. 

REDRESS submitted comments to the inquiry last year.

Read our submission

See the full report here


  

REDRESS and others call on Morocco to stop intimidation campaign

REDRESS along with other rights groups have expressed concern about the measures of intimidation and the criminal proceedings to which several victims of torture in Morocco and the NGO ACAT (Action by Christians for the abolition of torture) representing them have been subjected to.

In 2013, ACAT filed a complaint in France on behalf of Franco-Moroccan citizen Adil Lamtalsi for "complicity in torture" against Abdellatif Hammouchi, the head of the Moroccan secret services. Following this complaint, in February 2014, French police issued a summons against Mr Hammouchi at the request of a magistrate to the Moroccan ambassador’s residence in Paris. On 23 January 2015, ACAT also received a summons from the Moroccan judiciary in the context of a complaint for "defamation, contempt of the constituted bodies, use of maneuver and fraud to induce to give false evidence, complicity and public insult". This complaint also targeted Mr Lamtalsi and, according to media reports, another ACAT client, Ennaâma Asfari, a human rights defender from Western Sahara imprisoned in Morocco. The Moroccan judiciary failed to investigate the allegations of torture made by the victims represented by ACAT.

We are concerned that the purpose of these summonses is to intimidate the victims as well as those seeking to support them in their efforts to obtain justice. These acts amount to a violation of Morocco’s obligations under the UN Convention against Torture. REDRESS and other human rights groups call the Moroccan authorities to fulfill their obligations and to put an immediate end to these measures of intimidation. Steps should be taken to ensure that the complainant and witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.

Read the full press release (in French)

Conferences and workshops

Seminar on human rights defenders and torture in Sudan: advocacy, litigation and personal struggle

SOAS, London, 27 February 2015

REDRESS, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and the School of Oriental and African Studies centre for human rights law presented a seminar on the ill-treatment of human rights defenders in Sudan. It was held in memory of two Sudanese human rights defenders, the late Abdelsalam Hassan and Osman Hummaida. 

Mr Hassan was a renowned lawyer and intellectual who played a leading role in the struggle for human rights and justice in Sudan since the 1980's. He was the Sudan legal advisor at REDRESS from 2007 until he was tragically murdered in his south London home in 2010. 

Mr Hummaida was founder of the ACJPS, an authoritative organisation on human rights in Sudan, and its executive director. In November 2008 he was detained and tortured by Sudanese authorities in connection with his work promoting justice and accountability. The Sudanese government accused Mr Hummaida of helping the International Criminal Court investigate international crimes committed in Darfur. He continued to defend human rights in Sudan after his exile until his death in 2014. 

Amir Suliman (African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies), Najlaa Ahmed (a Sudanese human rights advocate) and Dr Lutz Oette (REDRESS Counsel) addressed the audience. 


  

REDRESS addresses the House of Commons on justice for torture in the UAE

Houses of Parliament, London, 26 February 2015

REDRESS and other rights groups addressed Parliament on ways to assist and provide justice for torture survivors from the United Arab Emirates. The meeting in the House of Commons was chaired by Andy Slaughter MP. The Commons heard how people are being tortured in the Emirates, including by electric shocks, beatings, and being shackled and threatened with sexual assault. The wife of a Palestinian Turkish businessman spoke of her husband’s 135 day detention in the UAE, where he was detained without charge and forcibly injected with unknown substances. Our director, Carla Ferstman, explained the ways that British law can provide justice for torture survivors. The meeting on torture and the attack on freedom of speech in the United Arab Emirates was convened by the Arab Organisation for human rights in the UK and solicitors firm Deighton Pierce Glynn.


  

The US Senate report on Torture: Prevention, Accountability and Transparency

University of Westminster, London, 11 February 2015

Our director Carla Ferstman participated in a discussion examining the implications of the US Senate report on Torture for the UK in terms of accountability, prevention and transparency. The report released last year provided a detailed account of the techniques used by the CIA in the "war on terror" and these were even worse than already acknowledged: they included prolonged sleep deprivation, forced “rectal feeding” or “rectal hydration”, as well as waterboarding on more prisoners than previously admitted. The torture took place under a programme carried out by CIA officials and contractors in secret prisons around the world as well as in Guantánamo Bay in the years after the 9/11 attacks.   

Click here for more information on the event


  

University of Cape Town: Conference on International Criminal Justice in Africa 

University of Cape Town, South Africa, 4-5 February 2015 

Our director Carla Ferstman joined other human rights advocates in Cape Town for a conference organised by the University of Cape Town and the University of New South Wales on international criminal justice in Africa. Some of the topics discussed were the role that civil society plays in shaping justice agendas as well as the role of the African Union in preventing torture and providing redress to victims. Also discussed was how to monitor and participate in international crimes trials, including how to promote victim participation in proceedings, and to provide adequate support through this process. 

Publications

Torture Survivors’ Handbook: Information and Resources for Torture Survivors in the UK

REDRESS has published a new handbook for torture survivors compiled through the experience of torture survivors in the UK and experts in the field. It contains useful information for torture survivors, their families and friends, community members, and front-line service providers and advisors who work closely with survivors. In it, you can find information on how to access medical and psychological rehabilitation and care to address the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of torture survivors. It details the steps needed when regularising a victim’s immigration status or applying for asylum and seeking advice on social welfare, employment, or education. Information on victims’ right to justice, reparation and accountability is also provided as well as a list of resources where survivors can seek further support. 

Torture Survivors' Handbook

REDRESS partners with Human Rights Watch Film Festival to present film on Guantánamo

REDRESS is partnering with the Human Rights Watch Film Festival to present "Uyghurs, prisoners of the absurd", a film recounting the journey of 22 members of China’s Uyghur minority who having fled repressive authorities in Beijing, happen to be in Afghanistan during October 2001 as US-led forces invade Afghanistan in search of Osama Bin Laden.  

From here they are drawn into an unbelievable odyssey. Sold to US forces, they are illegally detained at Guantánamo for years. Focusing on three of these “survivors of the absurd”, the film guides the viewer through the labyrinth of contemporary geopolitics as the filmmaker lays bare the worrisome drifts in the the fight against terrorism.

The UK premiere of "Uyghurs, prisoners of the absurd" will take place on Sunday 22 March 18.00 at Curzon Soho and Tuesday 24 March 18.15 at Ritzy Brixton, followed by a Q & A with filmmaker Patricio Henríquez as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

To purchase tickets click here

We need runners for the London 10K!

REDRESS is in need of runners who are willing to run for us and help promote our mission. We are urgently looking for runners for the 2015 10K London run which will take place on Sunday 12 July.

The running route will take you through the heart of the City of Westminster and the City of London and provide you with a fun and fulfilling experience!

We have secured five spots for the 2015 run and need to fill them all quickly! 

If you need a good excuse to get back into shape or are already an avid runner then why not run for a good cause and support us in standing up for torture survivors and against impunity?

Please run for REDRESS and contact Jennifer at jennifer@redress.org or call us at  0207 793 1777.

All the work we do on behalf of torture survivors is free of charge, we rely on the generosity of our supporters.

REDRESS 87 Vauxhall Walk, London
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