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

REDRESS intervenes on the issue of reparations in the Katanga case

REDRESS has recently intervened in the Germain Katanga case before the International Criminal Court. We filed observations on 15 May 2015 on the issue of reparations.

Mr Katanga was convicted in 2014 of aiding in the commission of one count of crime against humanity and four counts of war crimes in connection to an attack on the village of Bogoro, in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in 2003. During the attack, about 200 civilians were murdered, many others were mutilated and several women and girls were enslaved for sexual purposes. The attack also resulted in the destruction and pillaging of civilian property. Mr Katanga was later sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment. This is the second ICC trial to come to completion concerning war crimes and crimes against humanity in Eastern DRC.

The Court is now faced with the challenge of determining a fair reparation award with limited funds for the Bogoro victims who have indicated that they prefer individualised awards. In our submission, we analyse how courts, tribunals and related bodies have decided on the appropriateness of collective or individual reparation (or both). We also provide information on how courts and bodies have dealt with challenges relating to the identification of beneficiaries, the fact that they may be dispersed over large geographical areas and the prioritisation of limited funds available for reparation.

Read more about the case

Photo Credit: ICC-CPI.


 

REDRESS seeks enforcement of ruling in Pinochet-era survivor case

Leopoldo García Lucero was tortured and expelled from Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990). In 2013, his was the first case of a living torture survivor from the Pinochet era to be decided by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, America’s highest human rights court. In its landmark judgement, the Court ordered Chile to complete its investigation into the alleged human rights abuses and to pay him £20,000 in compensation for the delay in opening an investigation of the facts and his inability to access certain reparations available to torture survivors in Chile. It gave Chile one year to comply with the judgment.

Last year, Mr García received the compensation award and a formal apology from the Chilean Government at a ceremony held at the Chilean Embassy in London. Since then, REDRESS has been working to progress other aspects of the judgment, including an ongoing criminal investigation into the events and the costs of Mr Garcia's rehabilitation in the UK for medical and psychological ailments that he developed as a result of the torture. It has been in discussions with the Chilean Government and submitted a report on the implementation of the judgment to the Court.

In April, the Inter-American Court released its report on the implementation of the judgment. It stresses that Chile has yet to deal adequately with the criminal investigation and the request made by the Court to afford Mr García an adequate sum for his rehabilitation, and asks Chile to report further on these aspects.

Read more about the case 


 

Cases before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

REDRESS has worked recently on four admissibility submissions at the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR).

The first case concerns Dr Amin Mekki Medani and political activist Farouq Abu Eissa  against Sudan. Both men were detained for four months by the Sudanese authorities following their signing of the "Sudan call", which committed the co-signatories to work towards ending the raging conflicts in Sudan and towards legal, institutional and economic reforms. While the men were released on 9 April and the serious charges against them dropped, REDRESS and partners continue to pursue the case concerning their arbitrary arrest and detention and related ill-treatment whilst in detention.

REDRESS advocated for their release and has been working with fellow organisations the African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), including through the filing of the original complaint before the African Commission.

REDRESS together with the organisation REPRIEVE, also made a submission on the admissibility of the case of Andargachew Tsege v Ethiopia concerning a UK citizen and Ethiopian political figure who was kidnapped in Yemen and extraordinarily rendered to Ethiopia. 

Last February, our organisations submitted a complaint to the African Commission on his behalf, calling on Ethiopia to release and return him to the UK. Mr Tsege was abducted while in transit at Sana'a airport in Yemen on 23 June 2014 by what is believed to be Yemeni intelligence officers acting on orders of the Ethiopian government. He was handed over to Ethiopia and has remained in incommunicado detention in an unknown location in Ethiopia ever since. 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.

REDRESS is now working on two further submissions. One of them is on the S.A. v DRC case, which concerns the complaint of a Congolese rape victim seized last month by the African Commission. The victim was raped by a member of the Armed Forces during the armed conflict in Eastern DRC and was awarded damages against the State, but has not received any payments until today. REDRESS is working on this case together with the Synergie pour l'assistance judiciaire aux victimes de violation des droits humains au Nord Kivu (SAJ).

REDRESS is also working with partners in the case of Abdel Moneem Adam Mohammed v Sudan after learning that our complaint was also seized by the Commission recently. Mr Moneem Adam Mohammed was arbitrarily arrested in 2014 in Khartoum, Sudan, after providing legal aid to students who had been arrested in connection with demonstrations at Khartoum University. Our partners in this case are the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) and the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP)

See our submission in Dr Medani and Mr Abu Eissa case

Read more about Mr Tsege case

Read more about S.A. case

Read more about Abdel Moneem Adam Mohammed case

Global project to fight impunity for torture

Despite near universal recognition of the prohibition of torture, torture remains a reality in many countries. REDRESS and several partner organisations are mid-way through a three-year project to fight impunity for torture in countries with a high prevalence of the practice, including in Perú, Libya, Kenya and Nepal. The programme is funded by the European Union's European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Below are some recent examples of the work that we have undertaken under this grant.

REDRESS intervenes in Peruvian case involving police torture

On 31 March 2012, Luis Ismael Ugaz Velasquez was subjected to a severe episode of police violence in the district of Lambayeque in northern Peru. While at the Lambayeque police station and during his identification, Mr Ugaz was dragged inside the police station by his hair, beaten with batons, kicked and insulted. He was also was accused of possessing drugs. He was finally released after his father and lawyer arrived at the police station. Subsequent to this violent incident, Mr Ugaz was subjected to hostility from one police officer involved, in the street, who threatened to "burn" him. He has been physically and psychologically affected by these events.

This month, REDRESS submitted an amicus curiae (third party intervention) before a criminal court in Lambayeque. The amicus provides an overview of international standards with regard to the assessment of the severity of pain and suffering in cases of torture and the right to reparation of victims of torture and ill-treatment.

Read more about the case here

Launch of 'We Can Stop Torture' blog

REDRESS is excited to announce the launch of our new blog space "We Can Stop Torture" allowing readers to keep up to date with the project through survivor stories, press releases, videos, events and publications.

Readers are also able to engage through comments, expressing and sharing their own opinions and ideas. Alongside this, we have also setup a new Twitter account, @westoptorture, dedicated to keeping followers up to date with all that is going on in the project. 

To be part of this campaign, follow our Twitter page and our blog We Can Stop Torture here: wecanstoptorture.org 

Training for Libyan lawyers in Turkey

REDRESS and partner organisation Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) recently delivered a training for Libyan lawyers from 25-28 May in Istanbul, Turkey. The objective of the training was to build the capacity of a group of Libyan lawyers and human rights activists to take torture cases before different international and regional mechanisms, such as the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the International Criminal Court. The participants came from different areas of the country and belonged to different political affiliations.

Advocacy Work

Following the 56th Ordinary Session of the African Commission of Human and Peoples' Rights last month, the Commission's Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) has published a concept paper on the development of a series of general comments on Article 5 of the African Charter which prohibits torture and ill-treatment.

The CPTA's first General Comment will address the right to redress for victims of torture. Building on our previous collaboration with the CPTA, REDRESS looks forward to continue working with this body in the development of the general comments in the next months.

Last month, REDRESS was part of a panel discussion on torture organised by CPTA that focused on its initiative to draft a series of general comments on Article 5 of the African Charter. 

Publications

Report on effective legal representation before the ICC now available in French

REDRESS published a report on the effective legal representation for victims before the International Criminal Court (ICC) last month. This report, originally published in English, is now available to download in French.

While the meaningful participation of victims in proceedings is a key component of the Rome Statute, in practice, it has been difficult to achieve. The purpose of our report is to draw attention to some of the challenges that serve as barriers to ensuring effective and efficient representation for victims. Alongside additional research carried out by REDRESS, this report reflects discussions that took place during a seminar convened by REDRESS last year during which counsel for victims, intermediaries, representatives of the ICC Registry and others were invited to discuss how to strengthen victims’ legal representation and overcome the challenges that were identified during the meeting.  

More specifically, the report analyses: the current framework governing the appointment of legal representatives of victims as well as Common Legal Representatives of Victims. We examine some of the key factors governing the selection of counsel for victims as well as victims’ limited opportunities to challenge such appointments. We also review the practice of legal representation. We assess whether there may be a need to better spell out lawyers’ roles and responsibilities, and review the difficulties faced by counsel when communicating and taking instructions from victims and how to overcome them. Lastly, we consider whether additional monitoring mechanisms may help, and what these might look like, and whether the current disciplinary framework is adequate to address actual or perceived under performance.

Download the report in French here

Download the report in English here 

Events and Conferences

Conference on urgency and human rights

Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 29-30 May 2015 

Various international and regional human rights mechanisms have had to deal with urgent situations. These situations may range from imminent extradition or expulsion, risks to health and dignity in detention, threats to human rights defenders, internally displaced persons and others vulnerable to attacks, to indigenous peoples facing destruction of their environment. Sometimes the situation is one of armed conflict. To address urgent situations pending international litigation, human rights courts and other treaty monitoring bodies often use the tool of provisional measures (interim measures). REDRESS Director Carla Ferstman participated in this conference that aimed to bring together existing scholarship regarding urgency and human rights and discuss the evolving practices in this respect with practitioners. Mrs Ferstman addressed the issue of urgency in the context of detention. The conference took place at the Center for State and Law of Radboud University Nijmegen.

See the programme of the conference


 

Conference on the Habré case at the Extraordinary African Chambers

Brussels, Belgium, 27 May 2015

On 27 May, our Legal Advisor Jurgen Schurr participated in a conference organised by RCN - Justice & Democratie on "The prosecution of Hissène Habré at the Extraordinary African Chambers (EAC)- What perspectives for international criminal justice in Africa?". The conference brought together practitioners, academics and international NGOs to assess the development of the prosecution of the former dictator of Chad, whose trial is scheduled to start on 20 July 2015 in Dakar, Senegal, and to examine comparative perspectives. Mr Schurr intervened on the role of universal jurisdiction proceedings in ensuring accountability for international crimes. 


 

Roundtable on accountability of mining companies for sexual violence

Berlin, Germany, 21 May 2015

Our Post-Conflict Legal Advisor Beini Ye participated in this roundtable organised by the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) on accountability of mining companies for sexual violence. The aim of this roundtable was to discuss possible approaches of litigation against sexual and gender-based violence committed in connection to extractive industries’ projects. Especially in mining but also in other extractive industries, companies headquartered in the EU or North America have been accused of serious human rights violations such as forced evictions or the destruction of livelihoods. Conflicts with local communities have often escalated in violent repression by state or private security forces and peaceful protesters have been seriously injured, illegally detained, tortured and at times raped or sexually abused. There are a few examples of companies that have been involved or supported in such violence that have been sued by the survivors in the courts of the company’s headquarter. At the same time, very few human rights organizations are focusing on extractivism, litigation and sexual and gender-based violence.


  

Seminar on Chile and the Inter-American Human Rights System

London, UK, 20 May 2015

Our director Carla Ferstman discussed the landmark case of our client Leopoldo García Lucero in a seminar on Chile and the Inter-American Human Rights System. The seminar took part at the Institute of Advance Legal Studies (IALS) in London and was co-organised by UCL Institute of the Americas and the Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS). Mrs Ferstman discussed Mr García Lucero case and the need for reparation and justice for torture survivors residing outside Chile as well remaining barriers to justice.


  

Ricky Romain: Marking Injustice - A painter's way of coping

Bridport, UK, 16 May 2015

REDRESS Director Carla Ferstman gave a talk during this event at the Bridport Arts Centre that revolved around the search of justice and, in the artist Ricky Romain's own words, "at what point did we decide to settle for a world that has so much senseless greed and so little moral compassion in it." To see some of Ricky's art, have a look at his website: http://www.rickyromain.com/


  

Training for legal users in Israel

Tel Aviv, Israel, 10-12 May 2015

Our Counsel Lutz Oette was one of the international legal trainers for the “Training of Legal Users in the Istanbul Protocol” that was organised recently by the Public Committee against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.  

 

 

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