Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
March 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 for 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

Perú: REDRESS and partners seek redress for young man tortured by police

Luis Alberto Rojas is a young Peruvian homosexual who was arbitrarily arrested by police officers in 2008 and taken to a police station in Casagrande, where he was stripped and raped with a truncheon by three police officers. During his ordeal, which lasted for about six hours, Luis Alberto was also beaten and verbally abused for his sexual orientation and robbed of his belongings.

After his repeated attempts to seek justice in Perú failed, REDRESS, together with PROMSEX and la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH), brought his case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Last year, the Inter-American Commission found the case admissible. We asked the Commission to order Perú to investigate the facts as a torture case; to punish the police officers who violated Luis Alberto’s rights and to provide reparation to him. The Peruvian justice system closed the investigation into the facts in 2009 and these were never fully investigated.

On 24 March 2015, we submitted additional observations on the merits of the case before the Inter-American Commission.

REDRESS and La Coordinadora in Perú are working on a number of additional cases that highlight the special vulnerability of the LGBTI community in Perú as well as the complicity of the Peruvian authorities in the torture of citizens. More than half of Peruvians live in fear of being tortured by their own authorities, a worrisome statistic that was the focus of a video that we launched last year as part of our Global Campaign against Torture. 

Read more on the case here

Watch the video here


 

DRC: REDRESS to intervene in the Germain Katanga case before the ICC

On 1 April 2015, REDRESS was granted leave to make submissions as 'amicus curiae' during the reparation phase in the Germain Katanga case. Mr Katanga was convicted in March 2014 of aiding in the commission of one count of crime against humanity (murder) and four counts of war crimes (murder, attacking a civilian population, destruction of property and pillaging) in relation to an attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2003. He was later sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment.

The Court now needs to make a decision on the reparation awards that will be granted to the Bogoro victims. REDRESS will provide an analysis on how courts, tribunals and related bodies have decided on the appropriateness of group or individual reparations. REDRESS will also provide information on how courts have dealt with challenges that may impact the effectiveness of reparation programmes, including those relating to a geographically dispersed group of victims, limited funds available for reparation, and issues surrounding how to identify victims.


 

Iran: Complaint to UN experts on behalf of Kurdish women's rights activist

As mentioned in our previous newsletter, 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 losing her eyesight and is in need of urgent medical care after sustaining torture. 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, and was convicted despite not having access to a lawyer and that it was never proven that she had participated in armed activities. Her death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

One of her last activities as an activist was giving a speech on International Women’s Day at an Iranian girls’ high school. 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 abuse and that she receives the urgent medical care that she needs.

After we filed our complaint, Zeinab's story has received media coverage in Iran, featuring on BBC Persian TV, ANF News and Radio Farda.

Police reopens murder case of our beloved colleague Abdelsalam Hassan

REDRESS welcomes the police’s decision to reopen the murder case of Abdelsalam Hassan, a human rights lawyer who worked for REDRESS to promote human rights in Sudan.

Abdelsalam was killed in the doorway of his Lewisham home five years ago. While it was first believed that Abdelsalam’s killing may have been linked to his work to promote human rights and aid torture victims, the police are now focusing on the possibility that it was a random attack.

Detective Chief Inspector Graeme Gwyn, who is leading the investigation, recently said to a local newspaper: “We can find no evidence that the attack was linked to his work. Abdelsalam worked to help people. He had many friends in the Sudanese community and not a single one had a bad word to say about him.”

It has been extremely difficult for all those who knew and loved Abdelsalam to live with the uncertainty of not having the case solved, knowing that the person responsible for his murder is still out there. If anyone has any information on the case, or may remember anything of possible relevance, please contact the police on 020 8721 4805 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

You can read more about the case here

Advocacy Work

REDRESS attends consultations on the ReVision project in The Hague

REDRESS attended consultations on the ReVision project in The Hague on the 23rd and 24th of March. Following the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) mandate for the Registry to reorganize and streamline their organizational structure and operations, the Registry launched a "ReVision project" to be completed in June 2015. The consultations focused on how functions will be performed under the new structure. REDRESS has provided input to the project as it relates to victims' rights before the International Criminal Court. We welcome the Registry's commitment to providing better support in the field, closer to victims and affected communities, but have encouraged the Registry to take into account the views of those directly benefiting from its services in the field.  Some of the proposals that have already been endorsed by the Board of the ReVision project include creating a third division within the Registry as well as a single Victims’ Office.

You can read our full comments here

Photo credit: ICC-CPI.


  

Universal jurisdiction trial in London of colonel accused of torture in Nepal

The trial of Nepalese army officer Lieutenant Colonel Kumar Lama, accused of torturing two Maoist rebels in Nepal in 2005, began at London’s Old Bailey Criminal Court on 27 February 2015. However, the jury was discharged on 17 March because of translation and interpreter difficulties, and is expected to start afresh later this year.

REDRESS monitored the proceedings and has been following the case since the arrest of Colonel Lama in Southern England in January 2013. He has denied the charges. It is only the second prosecution in England for torture since the Criminal Justice Act 1988 made torture a crime wherever it is allegedly committed, on the principle of universal jurisdiction over serious international crimes.

Events and Conferences

Training to bolster investigations into conflict-related sexual violence in the DRC

Goma, DRC, 23-27 March 2015

REDRESS and the International Institute for Criminal Investigation (IICI) recently hosted a grass-roots training to bolster the skills of investigators in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo who are documenting conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). About 20 members of Congolese NGOs were trained on the basis of the UK Foreign Office’s International Protocol on the Documentation and Investigation of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which was released last year with input from REDRESS.

The participants learned how to plan and manage investigations, in particular interviewing skills, through practical exercises. The training also emphasised what kind of information needs to be collected to prove international crimes, in particular war crimes and crimes against humanity. The participants were introduced to potential avenues for litigation based on REDRESS’ Manual on Litigation Strategies for Sexual Violence in Africa.


  

Workshop in Uganda on the role of victims in domestic and international criminal justice 

Uganda, 18-19 March 2015

In mid-March REDRESS and the Uganda Victims Foundation held a workshop focusing on the role of victims in domestic and international criminal justice. Participants discussed recent developments related to the two Uganda cases before the International Criminal Court and the recent transfer of former Lord’s Resistance Army commander Dominic Ongwen to the ICC. Participants also reviewed a draft of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence for the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the Ugandan High Court, which was established in 2011, to a large degree, to prosecute serious crimes committed during the conflict.


  

Discussion on prospects for reparations for victims in the Lubanga case

Faculty Campus The Hague, The Hague, 23 March 2015

REDRESS and The Grotius Centre organised a panel discussion on the prospects for reparations for victims in the Lubanga case. Thomas Lubanga was convicted in March 2012 of the war crimes of enlisting and using child soldiers in armed conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was subsequently sentenced to 14 years of imprisonment.

Panel guests included REDRESS' ICC Legal Officer Gaelle Carayon, Pieter de Baan (Executive Director of the Trust Fund for Victims), Paolina Massidda and Luc Walleyn (Legal Representatives for Victims in the Lubanga case), Luke Moffett (School of Law Lecturer at Queen's University Belfast) and Dov Jacobs (Assistant Professor at Leiden University). The discussion was chaired by Prof. Dr. Carsten Stahn from Leiden University.  

Watch the panel discussions

See the flyer

Publications

Handbook for torture survivors in the UK now available in more languages

Our new Torture Survivors' Handbook for survivors living in the UK, published last month, is now available in Arabic, French and Spanish, as well as English.

Compiled through the experience of torture survivors and experts in the field, the handbook contains useful information for torture survivors and their families as well as front-line service providers and community members who work closely with them.

The handbook contains information on medical and psychological care for torture survivors, advice on regularising a victim’s immigration status or applying for asylum, as well as advice on social welfare, employment or education. It also provides information on victims’ right to justice, reparation and accountability as well as a list of resources where survivors can seek further support. Please contact us if you would like hard copies.

The handbook is available in English, FrançaisEspañol and عربي. 


 

Joint submission to the UN Human Rights Council ahead of the Universal Periodic Review on Nepal

REDRESS, Advocacy Forum, the Asian Human Rights Commission and the World Organization against Torture made a submission last month as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Nepal that will be held in November 2015. The UPR, established by the UN General Assembly in 2006, is a process through which the human rights records of the United Nations’ 193 Member States are reviewed and assessed. This review is conducted through the UN Human Rights Council is based upon human rights obligations and commitments expressed in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other human rights instruments to which the State is party, such as human rights conventions.

Our submission covers key concerns about human rights in Nepal from the country’s first UPR in 2011 to the present, and is based on extensive documentation by the organisations.

From 1996 to 2006 Nepal suffered an internal armed conflict between security forces and the Communist Party of Nepal—Maoist that claimed more than 17,000 lives. Both sides to the conflict were responsible for serious human rights violations. Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of November 2006, all political parties agreed to investigate and prosecute human rights violations, but no meaningful action has been taken.

In our submission we highlight a series of concerns, including continued impunity for serious human rights violations committed during the conflict and since; serious flaws in the transitional justice law and transitional justice processes; Nepal’s failure to effectively respond to sexual violence; the continued practice of torture and the ineffectiveness of the National Human Rights Commission. 

See our submission here

Donate to our Marathon runners this April

The London Marathon will take place on Sunday 26th April and six supporters will run for REDRESS.

Please encourage them by donating to their fundraising pages. Your contribution will help more than 800 torture victims by covering essential costs of our cases such as legal research; medical and psychological reports; notary and court fees and translation and interpretation costs.

Here are three of our runners:

https://www.justgiving.com/ianclements/

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/kittylondonmarathon

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/shoshkat

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

As an example, £10 allows us to cover the fees to initiate court procedures in relation to a torture case in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and £50 enables one of our lawyers to meet with a torture survivor and take his or her statement, necessary to initiate legal proceedings. Your help is vital to our work.

REDRESS co-presents film on Guantánamo Bay at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival

This year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival, showcasing the latest in human rights cinema, took place between 18-27 March 2015. REDRESS joined 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" took place on Sunday 22 March at Curzon Soho and Tuesday 24 March at Ritzy Brixton, followed by a Q & A with filmmaker Patricio Henríquez as part of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

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