Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
February 2017
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Dear friends and supporters,

Welcome to our latest edition of Reparation News.

This month, we provide the latest updates on new filings and ongoing cases. Also in this issue, we highlight our statement urging the Government of Nepal to provide more resources to the transitional justice mechanisms which are addressing thousands of complaints of human rights violations committed during the conflict and our work to improve victim participation at the International Crimes Division, the first domestic court in Uganda to try international crimes.

For the latest updates, please follow @REDRESSTrust on Twitter or join us on Facebook

Thanks for your continued interest and support for our mission to help torture survivors worldwide.

Carla Ferstman

Director


 

Casework

Photo ©BBC 

Submission to the Extraordinary African Chambers in the case of Hissène Habré

On 8 February 2017, REDRESS submitted an amicus curiae intervention on reparations in the case of Hissène Habré before the Appeals Chamber of the Extraordinary Africa Chambers (EAC). The verdict is expected to be delivered on 27 April 2017. Our submission discussed the obligation to provide full and effective reparation to the victims in the case in line with international standards on reparations.

We highlighted that, in line with the provisions of the EAC Statute and international standards, the beneficiaries of reparation should not be limited to the civil parties in the case but should extend to anyone meeting the definition of victim under the EAC Statute. Furthermore, we submitted that given the gravity of the crimes committed and number of victims involved in the procedure, financial compensation alone is not sufficient to provide meaningful reparation. In our intervention, we also addressed at length the establishment of a Trust Fund as provided for in the EAC’s Statute and that has been created by the African Union in July 2016.


 

REDRESS intervenes before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights

REDRESS and the World Organisation Against Torture on 23 February 2017 intervened before the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Naït-Liman v Switzerland. The case concerns a claim for damages brought by Naït-Liman, a torture survivor from Tunisia, before Swiss courts.

Following the refusal of the Swiss courts to accept his case for lack of jurisdiction, Naït-Liman brought his case to the European Court of Human Rights. In our intervention to the Grand Chamber we submitted that States increasingly recognise that their courts have jurisdiction over harm occurred in another country if there is no other reasonable forum accessible to the victim and if there is sufficient connection between the case and the forum where the victim seeks jurisdiction. We also argued that potential practical difficulties such as the administration of evidence must not be invoked to refuse to hear a case filed under the principle of civil universal jurisdiction.

We also intervened in 2011 before the Chamber of the Court, addressing States' obligations to provide victims with access to a court for allegations of torture committed abroad where there is no other reasonable means of redress, and the question of immunity of a former official. On 21 June 2016, the Chamber of the Court found that there had not been a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. On 28 November 2016, the case was referred to the Grand Chamber.


 

IHAT closure threatens proper investigations into allegations of torture by UK soldiers in Iraq 

REDRESS is concerned about the premature closure of the Iraq Historical Allegations Team (IHAT) announced by the UK Government on 10 February 2017. According to the UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon, IHAT - established in 2010 to investigate over 3,000 allegations of abuse by UK soldiers in Iraq - could be shut down in the summer and the remaining cases are to be transferred for investigation by the Royal Navy Police, rather than by IHAT, which was initially scheduled to close down in 2019.

REDRESS is urging the Government not to close IHAT and to ensure that it can continue to investigate these and any other credible allegations of abuse within the time frame set by IHAT itself. We have argued that its closure will limit the prospects for an independent investigation into any remaining cases like Baha Mousa, the Iraqi hotel receptionist who died after being interrogated and abused by British soldiers, and the case of fifteen year old Kareem Ali, who was allegedly thrown into a canal and left to drown. Read our statement


 

Case of S.A. could be instrumental in obtaining reparations for many other victims of rape in DRC

In 2014 REDRESS and the Synergie pour l'assistance judiciaire aux victimes de violation des droits humains au Nord Kivu (SAJ) filed a case before the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) on behalf of S.A.

S.A. was raped by a Congolese soldier who left the front line in the midst of fighting against rebel forces to go to her lodging and commit the attack, after threatening her husband and children. S.A. was awarded damages against the State but, despite the judicial ruling, she has received absolutely nothing until today.

Other victims of rape are now looking forward to the upcoming decision of the African Commission. If the ACHPR ruled in favor of S.A., it would mean a formal acknowledgment of the shortcomings of the Congolese justice system and this may prompt the Congolose authorities to step up their efforts to redress S.A. and other victims of sexual violence by the Army during the conflict.

This is the case of seven women from the village of Lemera, South Kivu, two of which are pregnant, who were raped by Congolese soldiers in 2009 and are yet to obtain reparations from the State. TRIAL, the NGO supporting them, recently filed an amicus brief (third-party intervention) in S.A.'s case, arguing that their frustrating experiences were proof of the impossibility to obtain compensation from the State from victims of sexual violence, even in the presence of a judicial ruling. This is an argument that REDRESS and SAJ also make in the S.A. case.


  

REDRESS urges Sri Lanka to provide remedies to family of man fatally injured while in police custody 

Thissera Sunil Hemachandra, a Sri Lankan man, died on 26 July 2003 following injuries he sustained while in police custody. Despite repeated requests from his mother and aunt, no investigation has ever taken place into these events and the circumstances surrounding his death remain unknown to this day. In 2015, the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) concluded that Sri Lanka had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The State was urged to conduct an adequate investigation; to bring any perpetrators to justice and to provide the family with reparation, including adequate compensation and a public apology. However, more than a year later, Sri Lanka is yet to take any steps to comply with the decision. REDRESS and the Asian Legal Resource Centre, who supported a complaint brought by his family before the UNHRC, have urged the Committee to press Sri Lanka so it complies with its international obligations.

Read more about the case 


  

REDRESS renews call for States to release arbitrary detainees

23 February marked 975 days since Andy Tsege, a British national, was kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia leaving his partner Yemi and three children without him. This date was also marked by a deterioration in the health of Nazanin Zaghari Rattcliffe, a British-Iranian dual national, who was detained on a family visit to Iran, requiring her to seek medical treatment for severe arm, neck and back pain.

REDRESS, who has brought Nazanin's case before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and together with Reprieve, brought Tsege's case before the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, is renewing its calls for States to release both victims of arbitrary detention. Please support the ongoing campaigns for their release on Twitter on @FreeNazanin and @FreeAndargachew

Advocacy work

©UN Photo by Steve Malloch

REDRESS demands more resources for transitional justice mechanisms in Nepal

Together, the transitional justice mechanisms of Nepal have received over 61,000 complaints and cases of rights violations committed during the decade-old armed conflict. But inherent flaws have seriously impeded their work from the outset, including a lack of consultation with victims in the early stages, inadequate resources and little government support.

REDRESS together with TRIAL International and several NGO partners in Nepal called this month for the Government of Nepal to extend their mandate and provide them with sufficient resources. While the organisations recognise that the transitional justice mechanisms are far from perfect, they believe they remain victims’ best chance to access truth and obtain reparations.

Read our full statement 


 

REDRESS appears before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights

On 27 February 2017, Jürgen Schurr, REDRESS’ Head of Law and Policy, appeared before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in the margins of its 21st Extra-Ordinary Session in Banjul, The Gambia. Together with Andrew Songa, from the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Jürgen was invited as expert to present to the Commission the Draft General Comment on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment or Treatment under Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The Draft General Comment, developed by the African Commission’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa, reaffirms the obligation of State Parties of the African Charter to provide victims with an effective remedy and full reparation, and provides guidance to States on how to implement that obligation in specific contexts, including in regards to victims of sexual and gender based violence, during armed conflict and transitional justice processes.

The Draft General Comment is the result of extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders throughout Africa and beyond. Once adopted, it will be the first regional instrument on the right to redress. REDRESS, together with civil society partners from the Pan-African Reparation Initiative, has advocated for the adoption of such an instrument since late 2013, and has supported the CPTA throughout the drafting process. 


 

Commentary on anti-torture framework in Nigeria

REDRESS and Legal Resources Consortium in Nigeria on 23 February 2017 released the Technical Commentary on the Anti-Torture Framework in Nigeria. The Commentary provides a detailed assessment of Nigeria's current anti-torture legal framework in light of Nigeria's obligation to prohibit, prevent and punish torture and to provide redress to victims. It identifies current shortcomings in Nigeria's anti-torture bill and offers concrete recommendations to stakeholders for amendment and adoption of a comprehensive bill.

The Commentary is published in the framework of REDRESS' work on anti-torture legislation, which, in 2016, has resulted in the publication of the comparative report "Legal Frameworks to Prevent Torture in Africa: Best Practices, Shortcomings, Options Going Forward". It will be launched at a stakeholders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on 2 March 2017.  

Tribute to Sir Nigel Rodley

©UN Photo by Paulo Filgueiras

REDRESS was deeply saddened by the death of our Patron Professor Sir Nigel Rodley, a stalwart of human rights and generous mentor, on 25 January 2017. Below is a statement from our Director Carla Ferstman on the passing of Sir Nigel:

"All of us at REDRESS are devastated to learn of Nigel's death. He was a patron of REDRESS, but most importantly, our mentor and our friend. Nigel's breadth of knowledge was unrivalled; he was tenacious in his pursuit of the prohibition of torture and other human rights causes he championed. He was also extremely sensitive to the devastating human cost of torture on the survivors. Nigel was hugely sought after for his expertise but he always made time, he was always there to give advice, to help and to keep us and many others in the human rights movement on the right track. To say that he will be missed is a real understatement; he leaves an amazing legacy to learn from and he will continue to inspire our work.’ Sir Nigel will forever remain an inspiration to us all."

Conferences and trainings

Please find below a few examples of recent conferences and trainings held by REDRESS. Additional information about these and other events can be found here: http://www.redress.org/events--conferences/events

Uganda: Roundtable on the International Crimes Division

The International Crimes Division (ICD) is the first domestic court in Uganda to try international crimes. Its procedural rules provide for a number of victim rights as recognised under international law.

Last month, REDRESS organized a round-table discussion with actors of the ICD at the High Court in Uganda together with the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, in Kampala. The participants discussed victims’ rights and participation at the ICD by looking at examples from other jurisprudence, including the US and the ICC.

In the ICD’s first case, against Thomas Kwoyelo, the pre-trial Judge has ruled that victims have the right to participate in the proceedings in accordance with the model of victim participation contained in the Rome Statute and Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the International Criminal Court (ICC). REDRESS' has given input to the ICD on its rules concerning victim participation. See here.


 

Training for Greek lawyers and others working with refugees

This month, REDRESS and the Human Rights Foundation Turkey conducted a training in Athens, Greece, for professionals that are providing frontline support to refugees. The purpose of the training was to provide guidance on the documentation of torture and ill-treatment in the context of the mass refugee influx in Greece, and to provide practical guidance on how to address the needs of torture survivors. 

The training took place in the context of a project coordinated by the Greek Council for Refugees. See REDRESS' recent report: "Mass Refugee Influxes, Refoulement and the Prohibition Against Torture", available in EnglishFrenchArabic and Spanish 

Support our Marathon runners this year

Don't miss the chance to support our runners 

With only less than eight weeks left, we are very proud of our runners for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017! To support Team REDRESS, please click on their names below to be redirected to their fundraising pages: JohnGuy,Nick, Mike and James and Frances. Eddie, Christiana and William are also running, please contact nora@redress.org if you wish to donate to them. 

Also, don't miss the chance to support Peter running the NN Marathon Rotterdam!

Please donate to our runners because they have shown their strong dedication to our cause as they join us for this unforgettable experience.

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