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

In this newsletter, we draw attention to our most recent casework, including major developments in the cases of Amarasinghe Arachchige, a victim of police brutality in Sri Lanka and Héctor Casique, a client of REDRESS who was murdered in June in Mexico. We also provide the latest updates on our advocacy campaigns, policy work and publications.

Thank you for your continued interest and support of our work to help torture survivors seek justice and reparation.

Best wishes,

Carla Ferstman


You can follow @REDRESSTrust on Twitter or join us on Facebook for all our latest updates.


New projects

©Photo courtesy BBC

We are excited about several new projects which will deepen our work against torture throughout the world.

Chad - With the support of Trust Africa, we are embarking on a new initiative with the Association for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (ATPDH) to invigorate efforts to enforce reparations awards issued in Chad and at the Extraordinary African Chambers, for the benefit of thousands of Chadian survivors of torture and related political violence.

Guatemala and Uganda - Together with Impunity Watch, and with the support of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we will be advancing work to support victim engagement and participation in justice efforts in those countries.

United Kingdom - With the support of the Baring Foundation, we are developing several new video training modules which explore the linkages between human rights and refugee protection, with a focus on immigration detention, the prohibition of refoulement, and access to support and assistance. A pro-bono team at Shearman & Sterling (London) is helping with the project.

Pakistan - With the support of the SOAS student human rights clinic, we are working with Justice Project Pakistan to analyse the application of the death penalty against persons with mental health issues.

Sudan and South Sudan - With support from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we will be embarking on a new initiative to build the capacity of human rights defenders, together with the organization Defend Defenders.

We are always looking for new collaborations with partners committed to the fight against torture. Please contact us with your ideas about how we can collaborate!


Petition to the Inter-American Commission in case of torture victim murdered in Mexico

REDRESS has filed a petition on the merits before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in the case of Héctor Casique, a client of REDRESS who was cowardly murdered in Mexico in June in Mexico, allegedly by members of an organised crime group.

After being arrested on a false murder charge in 2013, he was tortured at the hands of the police in order to secure a confession and spent more than three years in detention until the charges against him were finally dropped in September 2016.

UN body calls on Sri Lanka to investigate torture and death of victim of alleged police brutality 

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has given the Sri Lankan government six months to inform the Committee about any measures taken to fulfill its international obligations in a case involving a dead victim of alleged policy brutality.

The case concerns the torture and death of Amarasinghe Arachchige David Amarasinghe, who sustained fatal injuries while in the custody of the police of the Sri Lankan town of Kirindiwela in 2010. According to eye witnesses,  Amarasinghe was severely beaten by police with kicks and blows with iron sticks to his head and he died one day after being beaten. The case was taken to the Committee by REDRESS together with the Asian Legal Resource Centre.

REDRESS applies to intervene before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice in brutal domestic violence case from Nigeria

REDRESS together with the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa applied to intervene in Mary Sunday's case before the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice. She suffered horrific burns and disfigurement after being set on fire by her fiancé, who was a member of the local police force. The Nigerian Government refused to investigate or prosecute him.

In 2015 a case was filed against Nigeria alleging the State’s failure to assist Mary Sunday. The case was brought before the ECOWAS Court by longstanding REDRESS partner organisation IHRDA, along with WARDC Nigeria.

Our amicus brief sets out the international human rights obligations on States to prevent, prosecute and repair instances of domestic violence. We hope that the case will help bring justice for Mary, and clarify further the international law on States’ due diligence obligations for breaches of human rights by third parties.

REDRESS raises cases of British dual nationals jailed in Iran before the UN General Assembly 

Our Director Carla Ferstman travelled last month to the General Assembly with Richard Ratcliffe, husband of British charity worker Nazanin Zaghari Ratcliffe, who was arrested in Iran last year. Nazanin, who is serving a five-year term in Tehran's Evin Prison, is now facing fresh charges for which she could face an additional 16-year sentence.  

REDRESS commissioned a legal opinion authored by leading barristers that found that Nazanin has suffered grave violations of her rights by Iran and was targeted because she is a British dual national. 

Kamal Foroughi, who turned 78 in Evin prison last month, is another UK national arbitrarily detained in Iran. The UK Government does not currently have access to either him or Nazanin. 

REDRESS jointly with Amnesty International UK recently sent a letter to the UK ambassador to Iran, Nicholas Hopton, urging him to press for the release of these British citizens.

REDRESS draws attention to case of Cameroonian activist before UN Human Rights Committee

REDRESS has made a submission before the UN Human Rights Committee to draw attention to the flagrant non-compliance of Cameroon in the case of a political activist. 

Ebenezer Akwanga was arrested in 1997 for campaigning peacefully for the rights of the people of Southern Cameroons. For the next six years he suffered serious human rights violations, including incommunicado detention and severe torture, such as having melting plastic bags dripped onto his bare thighs. Despite being a civilian, he was tried before a military tribunal and sentenced to 20 years in prison, four of which he spent in jail.

In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee found unanimously in his favour. Cameroon was urged to re-examine his conviction and compensate him, among other measures. To date, Cameroon has not complied with the decision.


New report on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Operations

REDRESS has released a new report, 'Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in Peacekeeping Operations: Improving Victims’ Access to Reparation, Support and Assistance' in English and French

The report analyses the steps that have been taken by specialist bodies, organs and agencies of the UN as well as other international organisations engaged in peacekeeping to address victims’ rights and needs following allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in countries including the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Haiti. It calls for fundamental changes to the way in which these cases are handled, and foremost to recognise the victims as right-holders and not simply as vulnerable cases meriting charity or benevolence.

Victim and Witness Protection in Uganda: Recommendations for the International Crimes Division

REDRESS and Avocats Sans Frontières published a report of a recent workshop held with judges, the registrar, prosecutors and victims' counsel on best practice standards for victim and witness protection. Experts provided a range of practical options on how to improve protection, despite the absence of a dedicated victim protection law. 

The new Special Court for the Central African Republic: legal framework on victims' rights and reparations 

REDRESS and partners have released a new report on how to best consolidate the legal framework on victims' rights and reparations ahead of the publication of the draft rules or procedure of the Special Court of the Central African Republic.

The report takes into account input provided in two workshops that REDRESS, ASF, FIDH, LCDH and OCHD organised in July in Bangui, Central African Republic, which brought together national and international civil society organisations, including victims' organisations. 

REDRESS' legal officer in The Hague, Nader Diab, participated in a workshop in Bangui on 2-3 October organised by the CAR Ministry of Justice, when many of the recommendations contained in the report were discussed. 

Workshops and conferences

Technical legislative drafting workshop on anti-torture laws to improve torture prevention in Africa 

From 12 to 14 September 2017, REDRESS, in partnership with the Convention Against Torture Initiative (CTI) and the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, held its first workship on legislative drafting for anti-torture laws. The technical workship, held in Entebbe, Uganda, brought together representatives of 10 African common law countries as well as a member of the Indian Law Commission.

It was designed as a follow-up to the CTI regional seminar on anti-torture laws held in Accra, Ghana, in April 2016. The workshop responded to the need for further opportunities to be able to share technical expertise on legislative drafting and international and regional anti-torture frameworks.

Round table on detention reform in Syria

REDRESS' legal officer in The Hague, Nader Diab, participated in a round table with Syrian human rights defenders, lawyers and doctors to strategise on areas for detention reform in Syria. Despite the devastating conflict which is still unfolding in the country, local activists are finding creative ways to make a positive impact and to plan reforms for the future. REDRESS is keen to support those efforts. 

Pan-African Reparation Initiative meets in Johannesburg 

From 26- 27 September, REDRESS' Head of Law and Policy, Jurgen Schurr, participated in the annual meeting of the Pan-African Reparations Initiative (PARI) convened by our partners, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. PARI brings together approximately 30 experts and organisations working with victims of torture in Africa.

It has been instrumental in the development of the General Comment No. 4 on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture under Article 5 of the African Charter, adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in February 2017. The meeting focussed on country updates on the state of torture in Africa, and the development of strategies for the implementation of the General Comment No. 4 at national level. 


EU Genocide Network meeting in The Hague

On 26 October, REDRESS participated in the meeting of the EU Network of Contact Points in respect of persons responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Network brings together investigators and prosecutors from EU Member States and observers from Norway, Switzerland, Canada and the USA, that have a special focus on international crimes cases.

It is a crucial forum to discuss cooperation, sharing of information and joint initiatives to ensure that the EU is not a safe haven for international crimes suspects. The meeting focused on collaboration between NGOs and national authorities in the investigation and prosecution of international crimes.

African Union - European Union civil society dialogue on torture

REDRESS will participate in the AU - EU civil society dialogue on torture, taking place from 29-30 October 2017 in Banjul, The Gambia. The meeting will bring together civil servants from the AU and EU, as well as representatives from approximately 20-25 non-governmental organisations from Africa and Europe.

Participants will explore issues pertaining to the absolute prohibition against torture that affect both continents and identify concrete recommendations on how the AU and EU can contribute to realising the absolute prohibition of torture, including in the fight against terrorism and in the context of migration.

Run the London Marathon for REDRESS

Register now to take part in the Virgin Money London Marathon on 22 April 2018 to raise funds for REDRESS. Take on the ultimate challenge to help fundraise for REDRESS. You should join our team because by running for REDRESS, you could be helping survivors of torture to obtain justice and reparation. To register your interest please email Nora at or visit our website.   

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