Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
5 March 2014
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Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to the February 2014 edition of Reparation News. Please find below a summary of recent case updates, news and publications from REDRESS.

We are coming to the end of our first ever crowdfunding campaign! We hope to raise £2,500 in six weeks. The money that we raise will help to fund our UK casework. Any donation that you can spare will help to make a real difference to the lives of torture survivors.

Please visit our crowdfunding site here 

For the most up-to-date information from REDRESS, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Warm wishes,

Carla Ferstman, Director


 

Final push for REDRESS' first crowdfunding campaign

The end of REDRESS' first crowdfunding campaign is fast approaching.

Our legal skills have helped hundreds of victims of torture to find justice. Help us say the same for our crowdfunding skills! The money raised will help to fund our casework programme.

Help us to get closer to our goal here

REDRESS' Legal Advisor travels to DRC and Rwanda

In February, REDRESS' legal advisor Jürgen Schurr travelled to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda. From 18-25 February, Jürgen was in Goma in Eastern DRC where he met with local partners, lawyers, NGOs and government authorities to progress efforts to secure reparation for sexual violence. 

From 26-28 Febuary, Jürgen was in Kigali, Rwanda. Here, he progressed advocacy efforts relating to reparation and met with several of our partner lawyers and organisations in the area, in support of our ongoing casework in Rwanda.

Find out more about Jürgen and the rest of our team here

Read more about our work in the DRC here

Read more about our work in Rwanda here

Case updates

REDRESS' client Leopoldo Garcia Lucero to receive his compensation award on Friday, 7 March 2014

Last year, Leopoldo, who was tortured under the Pinochet regime and forcibly exiled to the United Kingdom, won his case before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The Court ordered Chile to afford him with reparations, including £20,000 in compensation. This friday, at a private ceremony at the Chilean Embassy in London, Leopoldo will receive his compensation in person directly from the Chilean Ambassador.

For background information on the case, see here



REDRESS welcomes new investigation into Lithuania CIA rendition claims

On 20 February, the Lithuanian prosecutor's organised crime and corruption division announced that they have launched a new investigation into claims that a current Guantanamo Bay detainee was held in CIA secret detention in the country. The detainee, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, faces capital charges for his alleged involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Evidence for these charges may have been obtained under torture.

A complaint was lodged on Mr al-Hawsawi's behalf in September last year by REDRESS and the Lithuanian NGO Human Rights Monitoring Institute. However, prosecutors had initially refused to open an investigation into the matter, citing a "lack of evidence" and the need to protect state secrets. As we reported in our January newsletter, this closure was overturned by a the Vilnius regional court, who urged prosecutors to look further into the matter.

Sarah Fulton, our International legal advisor, said: “we welcome the decision of the prosecutor to open an investigation into these very serious allegations which indicate Lithuanian complicity in extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and torture. This step is just the beginning of a long process, and we trust that the prosecutor will follow the evidence where it leads.”

Read our press release here.

Read more about the case here.


Important victory for REDRESS before African Commission

REDRESS welcomes the decision by Africa’s regional human rights treaty body that holds Sudan responsible for the arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment of 88 Internally Displaced Persons.

The individuals were seized from a displaced person camp outside of Khartoum. They were held for more than twelve months without any charges being brought against them, were not provided with any custodial safeguards, such as access to a lawyer, to family members and to medical care, and were not allowed to challenge the lawfulness of their detention. They were tortured and mistreated by members of Sudan's police force, in an effort to extract confessions from them. Following their release, the individuals lodged a complaint against the police about the torture suffered, which the Sudanese authorities have failed to investigate.

As a result, REDRESS and the Khartoum Centre for Human Rights and Environmental Development submitted a complaint on behalf of the victims to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Commission, in holding for the applicants, urged Sudan to pay the victims compensation, investigate the abuses further, and update legislation and security force standards to prevent further abuses from occurring.

Read our press release in English here.

Read our press release in Arabic here.

Find out more about the case here.


REDRESS fights for justice for victims of military injustice in Egypt

On 9 March 2011, Samira Ibrahim Mohamed Mahmoud and Rasha Ali Abdel Rahman, two female Egyptian citizens, were arrested by military officials in Tahrir Square for their participation in a protest during the Egyptian Uprising. After their arrest, they allege that they were held in a military prison, beaten and subjected to electroshocks. They claim that they were both, in separate incidents, stripped naked in full view of male military officers. Following this, a military doctor subjected them to forced genital examinations. No explanation was given for the examinations.

In March 2012, a military court found the doctor accused of performing the forced genital examinations innocent of all charges. In the wake of this decision, Samira and Rasha, decided to bring the case before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, as the main regional human rights mechanism. Their cases were filed with the assistance of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and Interights. REDRESS joined the case in December 2013, arguing that the forced genital examinations constituted rape and torture.

Read more about the case here


Intervention in Shestopalov v The Russian Federation

In 2004, a Russian teenager, Mr Shestopalov, was questioned by police in relation to the sexual assault of a former classmate. Mr Shestopalov was beaten and strangled until he signed a statement admitting to voluntary sexual intercourse with the rape victim. The victim later confirmed that Mr Shestopalov did not rape her. Mr Shestopalov brought a complaint against the police for the treatment he experienced while in detention. During the police investigations into the complaint, Mr Shestopalov was able to identify a police officer that took part in the torture. However, these investigations were later suspended on the grounds that it was not possible to identify the alleged perpetrators.

In 2008, a Russian court awarded Mr Shestopalov 50,000 rubles (approximately EUR €1,030) in compensation for his treatment, but no further investigations were carried out. At the European Court of Human Rights Mr Shestopalov complained that: no effective investigation against the police took place, and the compensation he received was insufficient to redress the infringement of his rights.

In January 2014 the European Court of Human Rights granted REDRESS permission to intervene in the case as a third party. On 18 February 2014, REDRESS filed its comments in the case. REDRESS' intervention laid out international standards and comparative jurisprudence on two issues; 1) the effectiveness of investigtions where several law enforcement officials have been involved; and 2) the factors to be taken into consideration when determining the adequacy of damages for torture and ill-treatment.

Read the full intervention here

Read more about the case here

Advocacy work

REDRESS contributes to European Commission's guidelines on victims' rights

In July 2013, REDRESS submitted comments to the European Commission, which was drafting guidelines for EU Member States on how to implement the Directive on minimum standards for victims of crime. The guidelines aim to make sure that victims of crime can rely on their rights under EU law in practice. The final guidelines were published on 21 February 2014.

REDRESS' reccomendations focussed on recognising victims of international crimes as a core group of victims with special needs and rights that EU Member States must take into account when implementing the guidelines. Also, we provided details of some of the situations in which these victims become involved in criminal proceedings within EU Member States. REDRESS' proposals were largely adopted in the final guidelines.

Read our orginal submission here

Read the guidelines here



REDRESS defends Spanish universal jurisdiction laws

On 10 February 2014, REDRESS was a co-signatory to a letter condemning Spain's ruling Popular Party's attempts to restrict Spanish universal jurisdiction legislation. REDRESS was one of 122 civil society organisations to sign. If adopted, the proposed legislation would severly curtail Spanish courts’ ability to investigate and prosecute serious crimes under international law, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and torture.

Read the letter here

Reports and publications

REDRESS contributes to UK Parliamentary Committee's Inquiry into consular assistance

On 5 February, our Legal Advisor Kevin Laue gave evidence to the UK Parliamentary Select Committee for foreign affairs. The Committee is conducting an inquiry into consular services, and REDRESS was asked to submit evidence on consular assistance and diplomatic protection for British nationals tortured abroad.

REDRESS' submisssion focussed on the ways that consular assistance must be adapted in order to fully comply with international, EU and UK law. REDRESS argued that if victims' rights are to be fully protected recent updates to consular guidelines must be properly implemented in an accountable manner.

REDRESS also reiterated the need for an independent inquiry into UK torture complicity allegations, as the UK's failure to act on these allegations is inconsistent with its declared anti-torture strategy, and potentially undermines the provision of consular assistance to UK nationals abroad facing torture or mistreatment.

Read our written submission to the inquiry here

More information on the Committee's report is available here

Photo Credit: UK Cabinet Office


Submission on gender policy to the ICC

REDRESS provided comments to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on her office's Draft Policy Paper on Sexual and Gender Based Crimes. The development of a policy on gender based crimes is an important tool to address in a holistic manner the investigation and prosecution of some among the most serious crimes falling within any gravity criteria employed by the OTP.

Read the submission here


Submissions to the UN Human Rights Committee and Committee Against Torture

In February, we made a number of submissions to the UN treaty bodies in relation to their consideration of State Party reports:

USA: we submitted a shadow report which consider the restrictions imposed on defendants in the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay

Nepal: we submitted a shadow report together with Advocacy Forum and the Association for the Prevention of Torture

Peru: we submitted comments with the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos to the UN Committee Against Torture on the list of issues to be considered in the upcoming examination of Peru's state party report


Compilation of Advocacy Briefings on Law Reform in Sudan

As part of the Project on Criminal Law Reform in Sudan, we published a compilation of our advocacy work on law reform, together with the Sudanese Human Rights Monitor.

The report is available in english here

Conferences and workshops

REDRESS participates in Bahrain human rights conference

Beirut, Lebanon, 12-13 February 2014

REDRESS’ counsel Dr. Lutz Oette participated in the third international conference: Bahrain-Ongoing Violations & Impunity, organised by the Bahrain Human Rights Observatory and the Bahrain Forum for Human Rights. Building on REDRESS’ work on Bahrain, including its 2013 report: “Bahrain: Fundamental Reform or Torture without End?” (published jointly with IRCT), Dr. Oette spoke on the issue of effective remedies for serious human rights violations in Bahrain.



REDRESS organises torture meeting in House of Lords

London, UK, 12 March 2014

REDRESS is organising  a public meeting on 'Reducing vulnerability to torture: Challenges to UK's foreign policy ” at the House of Lords on 12 March 2014, from 17:30 – 19:00 in collaboration with the All Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group.  The event is being organised within the framework of a new three-year grant (2014-2016) from the European Commission that builds on an earlier project on Reparation for Torture: Global Sharing of Expertise and will bring together about 20 of our NGO partners and anti-torture experts from all parts of the world to discuss strategies for collaboration over the three year period.   The public meeting will offer an opportunity to the participants to learn about and comment the FCO strategy for the Prevention of Torture from on the basis of their experience and interact with other NGOs, government and policy experts. 

Places are strictly limited. Please contact our Legal Advisor, Dadimos Haile, if you wish to attend. Email: dadimos@redress.org

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