Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
March 2016
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Get behind our Marathon runners in April

As you will see in this edition of Reparation News, March has seen REDRESS continue to build on our casework, advocacy and capacity-building work around the world.

On 24th April, five extraordinary people will run the London marathon to help us raise the vital funds that we need to continue our work on behalf of victims of one of world's most heinous crimes. Please get behind our runners so we can continue to provide torture survivors with free services that can help them obtain justice and reparation, and restore their dignity.

You can donate quickly and securely through our runners’ pages. Just click on their names to be redirected to their pages:  Arturo, Keith, Hugo, Peter and Nani. Even a small donation can go a long way: £10, for example, help us cover the fees to initiate court procedures in certain countries.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our work, want to learn more or would like to collaborate with us, or follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest updates.

Thank you once again for your continued support.

Carla Ferstman

Director


 

Case updates

©Tom Westcott/IRIN

REDRESS and LFJL file urgent appeal on behalf of a Libyan national before the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

REDRESS and our partner, Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL), have been working to secure the prompt release of a Libyan teacher who has spent more than three years in arbitrary detention. In March, our organisations highlighted the illegal nature of his arrest and detention in Libya as well as the detrimental impact it has had on his health in a letter to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. We demanded his release on humanitarian grounds. Our client was arrested by armed militiamen for a “short investigation” in March 2013. He has been detained ever since at different places of detention in Libya. His family has filed complaints with the General Prosecutor and the Ministry of Justice of Libya, but there has been no progress in his case.


  

REDRESS files application on behalf of Guantanamo detainee before the European Court of Human Rights

REDRESS continues to pursue legal action on behalf of Mustafa al-Hawsawi in Europe. In March we filed a complaint before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) against Poland for alleged breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights in his case.  Mr al-Hawsawi, a long-term Guantánamo Bay detainee represented by REDRESS in legal proceedings in Europe, was held in secret detention between 2003 to 2006 as part of the CIA's Rendition, Detention and Interrogation Program, during which time he was tortured and contracted Hepatitis C. 

In an application filed on 22 March before the ECtHR, REDRESS alleges that Poland failed to conduct a thorough and effective investigation regarding allegations that Mr al-Hawsawi may have been detained and tortured in Poland and that Poland facilitated his further torture and ill-treatment by enabling his transfer from its territory.  REDRESS notes that domestic remedies have been exhausted in Poland, following the September 2015 district court rejection of our request for an investigation into Mr al-Hawsawi’s claims after nearly two years of litigation.

Read more about the case


  

REDRESS seeks to intervene in case concerning the torture of journalists in The Gambia

REDRESS has applied to intervene as an independent third party before the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in a case concerning the torture of journalists in The Gambia. Our intervention will focus on the link between torture and freedom of expression and the impact of torture on journalists’ exercise of their profession. It will also consider the consequences of torture and forced exile on journalists and their families. 


 

REDRESS responds to Peru's observations before the Inter-American Commission in the case of Peruvian targeted by his sexual orientation

In March, we filed our response to Peru's observations on the merits of the case of Luis Alberto Rojas Marín before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Mr Rojas is a young Peruvian who was tortured by police officers for his sexual orientation in 2008. REDRESS is working with PROMSEX and la Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) in his case. We are also progressing a number of additional cases that highlight the special vulnerability of the LGBTI community to torture in Peru.

Read more about the case

Advocacy work

©UN Photo by Rick Bajornas

REDRESS and other human rights organisations provide input to bill that will tackle state-sanctioned torture in Mexico

REDRESS and other international human rights organisations recently provided comments on a bill that is currently being debated by the Mexican Senate that seeks to reform current legislation on torture and tackle widespread state-sanctioned torture. On 6 April, we sent an open letter to the President of the Mexican Senate urging him to use this unique opportunity to develop legislation that is more effective in the fight against torture by ensuring that it meets international standards. Key concerns include the systematic use of evidence obtained under torture and ill-treatment; the lack of prompt, thorough and independent investigations of torture complaints; and pervasive impunity. 


 
REDRESS provides input to the International Crimes Division in Uganda

REDRESS provided an analysis of the new victims’ rights framework to the International Crimes Division (ICD) in Uganda. The ICD was established to try international crimes such as crimes against humanity, domestically. It recently adopted rules of procedure which recognise a range of rights for victims. To support the ICD in its application of these rules, REDRESS made suggestions on how to interpret them in a way that can be most meaningful and effective for victims.


  

REDRESS and HRMI highlight lack of progress on accountability for human rights violations committed under CIA programme

REDRESS and the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) have made a submission to the UN Human Rights Council regarding the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Lithuania to be held next November in Geneva. Our submission focuses on the lack of progress made by Lithuania in investigating allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the framework of the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation programme.  Our submission is based primarily on the experiences of our organisations pursuing truth, justice and accountability on behalf of Mustafa al-Hawsawi, who was allegedly held and tortured in Lithuania as part of the CIA programme.


  

REDRESS and partners urge Nepal to do more to bring powerful perpetrators to justice

REDRESS, Advocacy Forum-Nepal and OMCT delivered an oral statement during the 31st session of the Human Rights Council (29 February - 24 March) in Geneva, during which outcomes of the UPR review on Nepal were discussed. In our statement, we drew attention to the need to criminalise torture in Nepal with a bill that fully complies with Nepal’s international obligations. We also highlighted the state authorities’ repeated defiance of court orders in cases concerning human rights violations, especially when the perpetrators are members of the security forces or powerful individuals, and urged Nepal to dissolve the deeply flawed Commissions on Truth and Reconciliation, and on Enforced Disappearances, and to start a consultative process to establish mechanisms in line with Supreme Court rulings and international best practices.


  

REDRESS provides comments on new anti-torture bill in Namibia

Namibia is in the process of reviewing its criminal law framework with a view to incorporating the crime of torture in its domestic legislation in accordance with its international obligations. The “Prevention and Combating Torture bill”, which will address this issue, is currently pending in Namibia. In March, REDRESS provided comments on the bill to the Namibian Law Reform and Development Commission which drafted the bill. Our comments draw on our recent analysis of anti-torture legislative frameworks in seven African countries, including Namibia, which form the basis of our report “Legal Frameworks to Prevent Torture in Africa”. Read our report in English and Français here.


  

REDRESS provides advice on reparation in the Habré case

REDRESS is currently supporting Chadian lawyers representing victims in the Hissène Habré case in relation to the issue of reparation. We are providing advice on what the reparation phase in the case could look like in the case of a conviction and in identifying options for reparation in the case. A verdict in this case is expected at the end of May 2016. 

Publications

 

Draft of the General Comment on the right to redress for victims of torture in Africa available for public input

REDRESS and the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative have collaborated with the Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) to help it to produce the first draft of the General Comment on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture or Ill-treatment, under Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Earlier technical and consultation meetings in 2015 had already provided the Committee with detailed insight into the legal, practical and political challenges which currently prevent victims of torture or ill-treatment from obtaining redress on the African continent.

The Draft General Comment has now been uploaded on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights website to allow the public to give input. You can find it here: http://www.achpr.org/news/2016/04/d214/


  

Report on strategic litigation and advocacy for human rights defenders in Africa

A report summarising the main finding of our “Strategic Advocacy & Litigation Training" held in Uganda last year has just been published. The meeting, co-organised by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project, took place in Kampala on 24-27 August last year. The purpose of the workshop was to equip human rights defenders with basic tools and skills in strategic planning for advocacy and litigation initiatives and campaigns. The workshop was attended by 25 human rights defenders representing 16 NGOs carrying out human rights promotion and protection activities in East and Horn of Africa region, including in Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Somaliland, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Themes covered included training in security planning, methods of developing effective advocacy and communication strategies, and procedures for litigation at regional and international mechanisms.

Conferences and trainings

REDRESS discusses reparation for victims of the post-election in Ivory Coast

On 15 March, REDRESS held a workshop together with our partner, the Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Penale Internationale, and a number of organisations working with victims in Ivory Coast. During the workshop, we discussed the ICC Prosecutor's draft policy on case selection and prioritisation and received an update from a representative from CONARIV on recent developments regarding reparation for victims of the post-election violence in 2010-2011. CONARIV has been tasked with making an inventory of the remaining victims who are entitled to reparation which were not previously identified by its predecessor, the Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation.  Also in March, our director Carla Ferstman travelled to Ivory Coast to provide input to the Ivorian Government on its draft reparations policy for victims of the post-election violence.  It is estimated than close to 200,000 potential victims of the post-election violence are eligible for compensation from a fund worth about US$16.7 million (£11.7 million).  


  

UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture meeting

In the framework of its 43rd session, the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture (UNVFVT) organised an expert workshop in Geneva on "Redress and rehabilitation of children and adolescent victims of torture and the intergenerational transmission of trauma" on 6 and 7 April. Our Post-Conflict Policy Advisor Gaelle Carayon presented on the challenges of providing redress to children victims of torture reflecting on REDRESS’ work with former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. You can read more about this workshop here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/UNVFT/Pages/43rdSession.aspx


  

NGO meetings to discuss upcoming ICC Prosecutor policy on case selection and prioritisation

On 9 March, the Office of the ICC Prosecutor (OTP) with assistance from REDRESS organised a consultation meeting with civil society actors to discuss the OTP’s draft policy on case selection and prioritisation. During the meeting, REDRESS stressed that it was important that the policy clarify on which basis cases are selected and prioritised and underscored the positive role the policy could play in building trust among victims. The Office of the Prosecutor invited interested organisations to submit comments on its upcoming policy. REDRESS provided comments together with its partners Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) and the Coalition Ivoirienne pour la Cour Penale Internationale (CI-CPI). Further comments were submitted by NGO partners in Kenya, after REDRESS helped organised a meeting there.

Support our Marathon runners in April!

These runners will help us promote our mission during the London Marathon on 24th of April this year. Each volunteer will be contributing to seeking justice and reparation for survivors of torture by raising vital funds to support our pro-bono work with survivors. Please support victims of abuse by clicking on our runners' names below to donate and help them achieve their goals!

- Keith Silika 

Arturo Garcia-Huidobro P.

- Nani Jansen 

Peter Noorlander

- Hugo Pena

Media coverage

- Journal de Bangui, 24 March 2016, Bemba reconnu coupable de crimes contre l'humanité

- L'Express, 22 March 2016, Jugement Bemba: un "énorme pas" vers la fin des viols comme arme de guerre

- The Independent, 20 March 2016, Andy Tsege: Britain helps fund Ethiopian regime holding UK activist on death row

- Everything Theatre, 7 March 2016, Pedro and the Captain, The Vaults - Review

- London Theatre 1, 3 March 2016, Pedro and the Captain at the Vaults - Review

- International Business Times, 26 February 2016, Iraq War legacy: UK faces millions in compensation payouts as torture claims against British army mount

- Kathmandu Post, 26 February 2016, Real Rights Now (an op-ed by activist Ram Bhandari)

- International Justice Monitor, 18 February 2016, Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting for Reparations in the Lubanga Case (an op-ed by our Post-Conflict Policy Advisor Gaelle Carayon)

- The Independent, 29 January 2016, David Cameron accused of "ill-judged" attacks on Iraq war crime investigators

- Daily Mail, 29 January 2016, Human rights groups condemn PM's clampdown on claims against Iraq veterans

- BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, 22 January 2016 (interview with our Trustee Nicholas Mercer)

- The Guardian, 22 January 2016, David Cameron wrong to "clamp down on legal claims against Iraq veterans"

- Channel 4 News, 22 January 2016, Cameron to clamp down on "spurious' claims" against UK forces

- Positive News, 7 January 2016, Torture survivors find bravery in bread

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