REDRESS - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Surviors Reparation News
October 2012      

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Welcome to REDRESS' October 2012 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, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Warm wishes,

Dadimos Haile, Interim Director 


Anniversary event with Dame Rosalyn Higgins

As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations Dame Rosalyn Higgins, former President of the International Court of Justice, the UN's highest court, will host a lecture and reception for REDRESS on 13 November 2012, from 18:00 pm to 20:00 pm, at the Inner Temple (Parliament Chamber), London.

Dame Rosalyn's talk, "The campaign for justice for torture survivors in the context of the human rights developments of the last 20 years", will celebrate REDRESS' 20 anniversary and its role in campaigning for survivors and against torture. A reception will follow the Q&A session.

There are still a number places available, so if you wish to attend, please RSVP as soon as possible but at the latest by 6 November 2012 by email to eva@redress.org or telephone 020 7793 1777.

Other anniversary events this year have included:

  • Two new films about REDRESS that will be launched in December, coinciding with the founding of REDRESS on 10 December 1992. They have been produced by film director Fiona Lloyd-Davies, best known for her award-winning work in Africa
  • Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, delivered a thought-provoking lecture at Chatham House on 10 September. The event was fully-booked and was a huge success! Listen to the audio and read a transcript from the event here
  • Sir Emyr Jones Parry, REDRESS’ Chair, guest edited a special edition on torture of the International Journal of Human Rights. To access the online journal, please click here.

Photo courtesy of the International Court of Justice.


REDRESS appoints Interim Director

Dadimos Haile, a former Ethiopian High Court Judge, has been appointed as Interim Director of REDRESS while Carla Ferstman, our permanent director, spends time in residence at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington, DC. Ferstman was recently awarded a prestigious USIP Jennings Randolph Senior Fellowship. Haile holds a Doctorate from Duke University School of Law, a Masters from the Catholic University in Leuven and a law degree from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. Haile joined REDRESS in 2011 as a Legal Advisor following his role as the Head of the International Justice Programme of Avocats Sans Frontieres, and has since been responsible for coordinating one of our global projects aimed at eradicating torture.


Case Update

There have been a number of important developments with our litigation and other efforts on behalf of torture victims in different parts of the world. Here are some of the highlights:

  • ECtHR upholds the prohibition on "torture evidence"

On 25 September, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) upheld the prohibition on the use of evidence obtained through torture in the El Haski v Belgium case. REDRESS and the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights, who had both intervened as amicus curiae, welcomed the Court’s ruling. Lahoucine El Haski, a Moroccan national, was convicted of terrorism related charges by a Belgian Court, based upon evidence that had been obtained in Morocco. The ECtHR found that there was a "real risk" that the evidence that had been used to prosecute El Haski had been obtained through torture, and that there had therefore been a violation of fair trial principles (Article 6 of the European Convention).

Read our press release

  • REDRESS calls on Spanish Supreme Court to reopen "Bush Six" case

On 25 September, REDRESS joined the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and the Center for Constitutional Rights, along with a number of other NGOs and experts, to file a brief before the Spanish Supreme Court, asking it to reopen the "Bush Six" case involving six US officials. The officials allegedly participated in the systematic planning of torture and other serious abuses of detainees at US run facilities at Guantánamo and other overseas locations. These allegations amount to serious violations of international law, including both the Convention Against Torture and the Geneva Conventions.

Read the amicus brief

  • REDRESS and the Asian Legal Resource Centre seek remedy in Sri Lanka torture case

On 27 September REDRESS submitted a communication to the UN Human Rights Committee regarding the alledged abuse of a Sri Lankan man at the hands of the Sri Lankan police. Amarasinghe Arachchige Simon Amarasinghe was arrested on 13 August 2010 by two police officers. During his arrest he was allegedly subjected to torture and other forms of severe ill-treatment by the police officers, which resulted in his death the following day. An investigation was started into the death of the victim, and the magistrate found that there was enough evidence to charge the arresting police officers with murder. However, while the proceedings were still ongoing, the Attorney-General intervened, blocking the continued investigation by the magistrate. After unsuccessfully seeking justice in Sri Lanka, the victim’s brother, with the support of REDRESS and the Asian Legal Resource Centre, brought the communication to the Human Rights Committee, claiming that Sri Lanka has violated the victim’s and author’s right to a remedy and that Sri Lanka is responsible for violating the victim’s rights under Articles 6 (right to life), 7 (prohibition of torture and ill-treatment) and 9 (right to liberty and personal security).

Read the communication

  • Historic legal victory for Kenyan victims of colonial torture

On 5 October, three elderly Kenyans who were tortured during the Mau Mau struggle for independence in the 1950s won a historic legal battle against the British government, after the High Court rejected the government's argument that their claims were time barred under English law. REDRESS made both written and oral submissions to the High Court in support of the victims' claims. The case will now proceed to a full trial unless the Government opens negotiations, which lead to a settlement.

Read our press release

Read our intervention

Photo courtesy of the European Court of Human Rights.


New reports and publications

  • Testifying to Genocide: Victims and Witness Protection in Rwanda

The purpose of this report is to explore the challenges that witnesses of the 1994 Rwanda genocide face in giving testimony about crimes committed during the genocide and to assess the strength of the various processes and mechanisms established to ensure their protection.

Read the report

  • Right to Reparation for Survivors of the 1994 Genocide  

IBUKA, a coalition of Rwandan organisations supporting survivors of the genocide, the Survivors Fund (SURF) and REDRESS submit this discussion paper to the Government of Rwanda to help progress discussions on reparation for survivors of the genocide with survivors, survivor organisations and other stakeholders.

Read the report in English

Read the report in Kinyarwanda

  • The Participation of Victims in International Criminal Court Proceedings

Until recently, international criminal courts and tribunals established since Nuremberg have given only sparse consideration to victims’ views and concerns and limited space for their active engagement with such institutions beyond the role of prosecution witness. The focus of this report is victim participation in international criminal justice processes and the array of measures that have been put in place by the Rome Statute system and the jurisprudence of the ICC.

Read the report

  • Torture in Africa: The Law and Practice

Across Africa, torture is routinely used by security forces and police in the course of investigating crimes, as well as being used to crack down on political opponents and human right defenders. This report examines the practice and patterns of torture across Africa, including in countries that have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, and also examines the presence and effectiveness of the safeguards against torture in law and practice in a selection of African countries.

Read the report

  • Torture in Europe: The Law and Practice

Our meeting of experts on torture litigation in Europe revealed that torture and ill-treatment constitute a major concern across the region. This report examines the practice and patterns of torture in 15 European countries and addresses the safeguards available for the prevention of torture, the accountabiltiy for torture and what reparations are available for survivors.

Read the report

  • Tortured Abroad: The UK's Obligations to British Nationals and Residents

Every year, British nationals and residents are arrested, detained and imprisoned while abroad, and some of these individuals are ill-treated whilst in detention, either to extract a confession, as a punishment, or through neglect. This report examines the law, policy and practice of British diplomatic protection and consular assitance. It examines the UK's obligations under the Convention against Torture, the policies of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the UK policy towards the state which is known or believed to have tortured a UK national.

Read the report

  • Torture and the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons in Peru

In October, REDRESS submitted a report to the UN Committee Against Torture addressing the discrimination and violence that Peru's LGBT people face on a daily basis because of their sexual orientation. The report highlights how Peru's legal system provides inadequate protection against torture of LGBT persons, and highlights how measures taken by Peru to combat and prevent torture are inadequate.

Read the report

  • The Failure of the Philippines to Implement Views in Individual Communications: Shadow Report to the UNHRC

In September, REDRESS submitted a shadow report to the UN Human Rights Committee about the Philippines’ failure to implement in good faith recommendations made by the Committee in a number of cases involving serious human rights violations.

Read the report


REDRESS advocates for survivors' rights

  • Committee against Torture investigates Nepal

The Committee against Torture has recently published a report adopted last June on a confidential inquiry into Nepal. Under article 20 of the Convention, the Committee is empowered to carry out a confidential inquiry if it receives reliable information which appears to it to contain well-founded indications that torture is being systematically practised in a State party. REDRESS and Advocacy Forum provided a number of key submissions to the Committee urging the opening of such an inquiry, providing evidence of the systematic practice of torture and systematic breaches of Nepal’s obligation to investigate, prosecute and provide reparations.

Read the report

  • REDRESS testifies before the Canadian Committee on Immigration

On 15 October REDRESS' Dr. Lutz Oette addressed the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration of the House of Commons in Canada to discuss what steps Canada could and should take when suspects of international crimes are present in the country. Lutz cited the observations of the the Committee Against Torture which expressed its concerns that Canada’s "policy of resorting to immigration processes to remove or expel perpetrators from its territory rather than subjecting them to the criminal process creates actual or potential loopholes for impunity". As a general rule, a state must prosecute a suspect found on its territory unless it extradites him or her.

Read the statement

  • NGO comments on the drafting of Protocols 15 and 16 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

REDRESS and a number of other charities recently released a statement outlining their comments on the ongoing discussion over the drafting of Protocols 15 and 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Read the comments

Photo courtesy of Jean-Marie Hullot.


Conferences and workshops

  • Expert meeting on torture litigation in the Americas

Lima, Peru, 18-20 October: The meeting of experts in Lima was the fourth in a series of regional meetings which seek to strengthen the collaboration of practicioners to more effectively combat torture. Experts on torture litigation and civil society representatives from 17 countries of the Americas attended the meeting. Mario Coriolano, member of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture, was the keynote speaker. The meeting was co-organised by the Coordinadora National de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH).

  • Expert meeting on genocide suspects in East Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, 24-25 October: REDRESS hosted this expert meeting in Nairobi to discuss regional cooperation to end impunity for genocide suspects in East Africa who fled Rwanda in the aftermath of the genocide. Topics discussed included the rights of victims and witnesses during proceedings, and the accountability of genocide suspects in Africa under universal jurisdiction.

  • Women human rights defenders: empowering and protecting the change makers

London, UK, 24 October: REDRESS attended the Peace Bridages International's conference on Women Human Rights Defenders in London. The conference recognised the work of women human rights defenders and discussed the best ways to support their work – both by empowering these human rights defenders and by enhancing their protection.

  • 52nd Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights

Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire, 9-22 October: REDRESS attended the most recent ordinary session of the African Commission, where it met representatives from the Commission. We also participated in various side events, including a one day meeting to discuss common challenges faced during litigation, and distributed our new manual on Sexual Violence Litigation in Africa.

  • The Law and Practice of the ICC: Achievements, Impact and Challenges

The Hague, The Netherlands, 26-27 September: Carla Ferstman, director of REDRESS, spoke at the two-day conference on "The First Reparations Decision before the ICC: Issues and Challenges for the Future". The conference was organised by the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies.

Photo: Meeting of experts in Lima, Peru.


Thank you for supporting us!

REDRESS wants to thank all the committed supporters who have donated their time and energy to assist our work on behalf of victims of torture.

Virgin London Marathon 2013

REDRESS is recruiting runners for the London Marathon 2013, which will take place on April 21.

The London Marathon is one of the most iconic marathons in the world, and you can be part of it while running for a great cause. We still have a few bond places available and ask our runners for a sponsorship target of £1,250. If you would like to be part of REDRESS’ team and contribute to our work on behalf of torture survivors, please contact Liliana at liliana@redress.org or 02077931777.

If you were successful in securing a place in the ballot, you can still join our team and help raise money for our work, without having to commit to a minimum level of sponsorship.

Photo: Charles Barclay, who ran the London Marathon this year, with Liliana Rodrigues.


     
 

VRWG - Victims’ Rights Working Group

Visit The Victims' Rights Working Group (VRWG) website, a network coordinated by REDRESS that works to ensure that victims’ rights are met throughout the judicial process of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Visit VRWG; latest VRWG Newsletter

PCLRS - Criminal Law Reform in Sudan

Visit the Project for Criminal Law Reform in Sudan (PCLRS), a joint initiative of REDRESS and local Sudanese partners which advocates for crucial criminal law reforms to advance the legal recognition of rights of all people in Sudan.

Visit PCLRS


 

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