Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
October 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, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Please contact us if you have any questions about our work, want to learn more or would like to collaborate with us. Thank you for your continued interest in our work and for your support. 

Our Annual Report for the Year ended 31 March 2015 is now available! Please click here to read it online, or contact us if you would like a hard-copy.

Carla Ferstman

Director


 

Case updates

Aung San Suu Kyi and Mutaba Tadjibayeva

©Sacha Koulaeva/FIDH. Mutabar Tadjibayeva with Aung San Suu Kyi.

Human rights defender forcibly sterilised whilst in detention welcomes positive decision by the UN

The UN Human Rights Committee has called on the Uzbek Government to investigate the torture and ill-treatment of a human rights defender forcibly sterilised whilst in detention. Mutabar Tadjibayeva has repeatedly sought an investigation from Uzbek authorities into the egregious human rights abuses that she has suffered since 2002, but her claims have never been properly investigated and no-one has ever been prosecuted for them.

In 2012, Ms Tadjibayeva filed a complaint before the Committee with the support of human rights organisations REDRESS in London and FIDH in Paris. She claimed she endured severe harassment and torture at the hands of Uzbek authorities from 2002 until 2009 in retaliation for her human right activities. She was gang-raped by police officers on one occasion and had her uterus removed without her consent whilst serving part of an eight-year prison sentence in 2005-2008.

After learning of the Committee's decision, Ms Tadjibayeva said: “I hope this decision adds to the struggle against impunity in Uzbekistan and serves to put an end to the many indignities committed against human rights defenders by its repressive regime.”  Carla Ferstman, director of REDRESS, noted that the abuses "form part of a pattern of intimidation of human rights defenders which must be redressed." The organisations were notified of the UNHRC’s decision on 6 October 2015. Uzbekistan was given 180 days to inform the Committee about any measures taken.

Read more about the case


 

REDRESS and other NGOs intervene in rendition case before the United Kingdom Supreme Court 

REDRESS, together with other NGOs, has intervened before the Supreme Court in the case brought by a former anti-Gaddafi leader, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, and his wife, Fatima Bouchar. The couple claims that British intelligence and security officials were involved in their abduction and illegal transfer to Libya, where they were tortured. A hearing in the case is taking place from 9 - 12 November.

In 2013, the High Court struck out their lawsuit after finding that, even though they had a “potentially well-founded claim” that the UK authorities were “directly implicated” in their abduction, the case should not be heard because it could damage UK-US relations. In 2014, however, the Court of Appeal ruled that they had the right to sue these officials because the failure to allow so would result in a denial of a legal remedy for very grave allegations of human rights violations. The Court held that the risk of displeasing other States could not outweigh the imperative of providing access to justice to victims. 

The UK Government has been granted permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on both the issue of foreign act of state and state immunity. REDRESS, JUSTICE, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists applied to intervene before the Supreme Court, after having intervened previously before the Court of Appeal.

Read more about the case


 

Submission to the African Commission on behalf of Libyan client

REDRESS and Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) have made a submission to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights on behalf of a Libyan victim of torture. The victim is of the discriminated Tawergha community and the case focuses on the discrimination and lack of access to justice faced by him. Our submission was filed on 23 October.

Advocacy work

©EHAHRDP. Juergen Schurr of REDRESS at the NGO Forum in Banjul.

REDRESS at the NGO Forum and the 57th Ordinary Session of the African Commission

REDRESS participated in an international forum of NGOs prior to the 57th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) in Banjul, The Gambia. This year, the NGO Forum ran from 31 October – 2 November 2015. The NGO meeting provided us with an opportunity to follow up on our cases, meet our partners and carry out activities with the Litigants' Group and the Pan-African Reparation Initiative (PARI), including a panel discussion on the Communication procedure of the ACHPR and a meeting of PARI members on the General Comment on the right to redress. REDRESS is now attending the 57th Ordinary Session of the ACHPR which began on 4 November also in Banjul. 


 

EU Genocide Network meeting

REDRESS participated in a meeting of the EU Genocide Network on 21 October in The Hague. During the meeting, participants discussed the follow up of the adoption of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council's conclusions on the fight against impunity for serious international crimes. The Council - composed of the justice and home affairs ministers of the 28 European Union member states - adopted these conclusions at their June meeting. REDRESS, together with other partner organisations, had advocated for the adoption of such conclusions. The conclusions annex the Strategy of the EU Genocide Network on the fight against impunity, which sets out a range of measures EU institutions and Member States must take to ensure an effective fight against impunity within the European Union. The conclusions of the most recent meeting are available here

Events and conferences

©ICC-CPI. Former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo appears before an ICC judge.

Chatham House discussion on immunities for international crimes

The meeting concentrated on the new protocol adopted by the African Union to afford immunities to heads of state and government and senior officials, before the planned new criminal jurisdiction of the African Court of Justice and Human Rights. Also discussed was the International Law Commission’s ongoing work in this area. The event was held in association with Doughty Street Chambers and REDRESS, and our director Carla Ferstman participated in the discussion.

To read more about this topic, please read this article by REDRESS' Director here


 
Field missions to Uganda and Kenya

Our Post-Conflict Legal Advisor Beini Ye traveled to Uganda and Kenya in October to deliver a series of workshops and to work on our ongoing cases on behalf of victims. In Uganda, REDRESS supported FIDA Uganda to prepare a case relating to sexual violence in conflict. For that purpose, we held a series of meetings with relevant parties to discuss the strategy and victim support scheme in the case. In Kenya, REDRESS held in partnership with Kituo Cha Sheria a round of workshops with victim representatives to discuss domestic transitional justice issues and the latest developments at the International Criminal Court. See here our Q&A on the Ruto and Sang case which was shared with participants.


 

National legal workshop in Perú

REDRESS and its partner la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) organised a legal workshop around the topic of torture, ill-treatment and the use of force in Lima, Perú, on 29 - 30 October. The workshop was attended by our Legal Officer Gaia Pergolo and lawyers from different parts of Peru attended the meeting.


  

Training on psychological torture 

Our director Carla Ferstman traveled to Denmark on 28 October 2015 to participate in an expert seminar on psychological torture, which was organised by several Palestinian organisations and Dignity (the Danish Institute against Torture). In October, she also attended a meeting in Stockholm organised by Pablo de Greiff, the UN Special Rapporteur on Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Recurrence, whose purpose was to gather expertise to assist him with his ongoing work to frame principles on non-recurrence. 

Publications

©IRIN News. A woman scampers for safety during the post-election violence in Kenya.

New edition of Pan African Reparation Perspectives bulletin

REDRESS continues to support the Pan African Reparation Initiative (PARI) and in October participated in a meeting of PARI in Johannesburg. REDRESS and the Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) also edited the third edition of Pan African Reparation Perspectives.

Articles included in the current issue:

- A General Comment on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and Ill-treatment under Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights;

- Access to Redress for victims of torture in Kenya: Challenges and Best Practices;

- The Right to Rehabilitation: Normative Gaps to be addressed by the General Comment on Redress;

- The right to a (private) prosecution as a key component of the right to reparation;

- Reparation processes for victims in Côte d’Ivoire: a promising development though need for more transparency and participation;

- The Pan African Reparations Initiative (PARI)’s Contribution towards Better Access to Reparation in Africa.

Download the bulletin here 


 

Publications focusing on our ICC work

In October, REDRESS published a Q&A on the Ruto and Sang case before the ICC which seeks to answer some of the questions raised by victims on the use of prior recorded testimonies by witnesses. Allegations of witness interference have featured prominently in this case. In April this year, the ICC Prosecutor sought the admission of the previously recorded statements of as many as 16 witnesses, who had since refused to testify or recanted their testimonies. She argued that they had done so because they had been intimidated or bribed. In August, Trial Chamber V granted the Prosecution’s request to use previously recorded statements of five of the 16 witnesses. The Q&A explains, for example, why the Prosecutor wants to use witness statements that have been recanted and what steps have been taken against those accused of tampering with witnesses.

Our ICC Legal Officer Gaelle Carayon also published an article in October in the International Justice Monitor, where she argues that prosecutorial discretion at the ICC should not be used as a shield to avoid scrutiny or overly restrict victims’ right to justice, truth, and reparation before the ICC. The article also calls for a stronger role for victims in deciding which investigations should be opened, suspended or closed. You can read it here 

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