Redress - Ending Torture, Seeking Justice for Survivors
Reparation News
February - March 2013
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Dear friends and colleagues,

Welcome to REDRESS' February-March 2013 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 


 

REDRESS welcomes new Patrons

REDRESS is delighted to welcome Dame Vivienne Westwood, Sir Nigel Rodley and Professor Manfred Nowak as Patrons. The addition of Sir Nigel and Professor Nowak brings to three the number of former Special Rapporteurs on Torture among REDRESS' Patrons.

Dame Vivienne Westwood

Dame Vivienne is one of the most influential British fashion designers of our time and a longtime champion of civil liberties and human rights. The designer, who was instrumental in defining the punk look in the 1970s, has supported us for a number of years through her son's charity Humanade. She has twice earned the prestigious award for British Designer of the Year. Dame Vivienne was made Honorary Senior Fellow of the Royal College of Art in 1992, and Officer and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (OBE and DBE) in 1992 and 2006, respectively.

Sir Nigel Rodley

Sir Nigel Rodley is a prominent advocate and professor of human rights and international law. He has supported REDRESS since its founding in 1992. Sir Nigel has been a member of the UN Human Rights Committee since 2001 and served as UN Special Rapporteur on Torture from 1993 to 2001. Knighted in 1998 for services to human rights and international law, he is also a President of the International Commission of Jurists and a joint recipient of the American Society of International Law's 2005 Goler T Butcher Human Rights Medal. He currently chairs the University of Essex Human Rights Centre.

Professor Manfred Nowak

Professor Nowak is a staunch defender of human rights and a distinguished academic. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture from 2004 to 2010, UN expert on enforced disappearances and judge at the Human Rights Chamber for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was one of the five authors of a UN report on the detention of captives at the US naval base in Guantanamo. In 1992, he co-founded the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights in Vienna, where he is co-director. Professor Nowak has taught at several universities and currently teaches at the University of Vienna. 

Read our press release  

Case updates

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

Complaint filed against Uzbekistan for forcible sterilisation

Mutabar Tadjibayeva, one of Uzbekistan's best known rights defenders and a Nobel Prize nominee, recently filed a complaint against Uzbekistan for her torture, including forced sterilisation, whilst in prison for her human rights work. FIDH and REDRESS filed the complaint on her behalf before the UN Human Rights Committee, one of the main UN bodies that monitor state's compliance with their human rights obligations. This is the first known case before the Committee involving an Uzbek human rights defender being forcibly sterilised. Tadjibayeva has repeatedly sought an investigation from Uzbek authorities since 2002 but to no avail. She is asking the Committee to order Uzbekistan to investigate the crimes, punish those reponsible and provide her with reparation.

Read more

Photo of Mutabar Tadjibayeva with Aung San Suu Kyi by Sacha Koulaeva.


 

Hearing at Inter-American Court in case of torture survivor from Pinochet’s regime

On 20 and 21 March, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights will hear a landmark case involving a Chilean victim of torture who is a client of REDRESS. In 1973, Lucero Garcia was arbitrarily detained by the police and held incommunicado without charge. During his detainment he was subjected to sustained tortured. At the end of his detention in 1975 he was forcibly expelled from Chile and placed on a plane to the United Kingdom. This is a case addressing the responsibility of Chile to provide an adequate remedy and reparation for victims of torture from Pinochet's regime who were also forcibly exiled. The ruling could have enormous implications for thousands of Chilean victims of torture, including those who were forcibly exiled. While Chile acknowledges that Garcia was tortured, this case focuses on the lack of adequate justice for Garcia and his family.

Read more


 

Paulo Nzili & two others v. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mau Mau case)

Last year, three elderly Kenyans who were tortured during the Mau Mau independence struggle of the 1950s and 1960s won a historic legal victory against the British Government, after the High Court rejected the Government's argument that their claims were time barred under English law. The High Court said that despite the lapse of time, a fair trial was possible. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has now appealed the decision. The Government accepts that the three Kenyans who are seeking redress were tortured by British officials. They suffered grave abuses including castration, severe sexual assaults and systematic beatings. But the Government continues to pursue every possible technical defence to the claim. On 12 February 2013, REDRESS filed an application to intervene in the proceedings before the Court of Appeal.

Read more

Advocacy work

REDRESS welcomes verdicts in Rwandan Genocide trials

On 14 February, a Norwegian court sentenced Sadi Bugingo to 21 years in prison, the maximum sentence that can be imposed under Norwegian law, for his role in planning and supervising the murder of about 2,000 people during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. This was the first case of its kind to be tried in Norway. Two weeks later, on 1 March, a Dutch court found Yvonne Basebya (Ntacyobatabara) guilty of inciting genocide. She was the country's first citizen since the Second World War to be convicted of offenses related to the genocide. The Rwandan-born Basebya was sentenced to six years and eight months in prison. REDRESS and Survivors Fund, two organisations working closely with Rwandan survivors to end impunity for genocide suspects living abroad, welcomed the verdicts. They confirm that perpetrators of the worst crimes can be held accountable irrespective of where and when they are found. Both suspects were prosecuted under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows states to prosecute certain crimes such as genocide and torture that were committed abroad.

Photo of Rwandan children at a camp in Goma, UN Photo by John Isaac.

Read our press release on the case in Norway

Read our press release on the trial in the Netherlands


 

Concern at amputations in Sudan

REDRESS recently learned that government doctors in Sudan amputated a man's right hand and left foot by court order in violation of the absolute prohibition on torture and ill-treatment. The man had been found guilty of an armed robbery. Sudanese law allows amputations as a penalty for certain crimes. REDRESS, along with the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Human Rights Watch and Physicians for Human Rights issued a joint statement urging Sudan to act to stop this practice.

Read our joint statement

Read our report "No more cracking of the whip: Time to end corporal punishment in Sudan"


 

Secret courts must be stopped

On 1 March, REDRESS added its name to a letter condemning the Government plans for extending secret courts into the civil courts in England and Wales (set out in the Justice and Security Bill). The bill was drafted in response to legal cases involving allegations of UK complicity in secret rendition, torture and ill-treatment. The government claims the reform will enable judges to hear a greater range of national security cases. However, REDRESS considers that the plans are an attack on open and accessible justice, and a threat to the right to a fair trial and the rule of law. The bill is currently going through the House of Commons.

Read more 

REDRESS at HRW Film Festival

REDRESS will be co-presenting two films at this years Human Rights Watch Film Festival. The first film Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution recounts the decade-long struggle for independence in East Timor. The film highlights the grave human rights abuses that plagued the country during this time. The documentary follows two people during this struggle: human rights activist Kirsty Swore (otherwise known as Ruby Blade) and political prisoner Xanana Gusmão, who became, respectively, the first lady and the first president of East Timor in 2002. The film will be shown on March 19 at 9.00pm at the Ritzy Cinema, and on March 20 at 6.40pm at Curzon Soho.

The second film The Act of Killing explores a dark chapter of Indonesia's history by enlisting a group of former killers, including Indonesian paramilitary leader Anwar Congo, to re-enact their lives and the atrocities they committed. When President Sukarno was overthrown in 1965, Anwar and his cohorts joined in the mass murder of suspected communists, ethnic Chinese and intellectuals. Estimates of the number of people killed range from a quarter of a million to more than a million. The film will be shown on March 18 at 6.15pm at Ritzy Cinema and March 19 at 6.15pm at Curzon Soho.

This will be the 17th edition of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. The film festival brings to life human rights abuses through storytelling in a way that challenges each individual to empathize and demand justice for all people.

New reports and publications

CEDAW: Justice remains out of reach for many women

Women and girls victims of human rights violations continue to face numerous challenges in accessing justice. REDRESS and the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn for Africa recently made a submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to draw attention to the many barriers faced by women, including the impact of customary systems of law. The expert body on women’s human rights is drafting a general recommendation on the topic, and our submission will be considered as part of that process. On 18 February 2013 REDRESS also attended the Half Day of General Discussion on Access to Justice held by the Committee in Geneva, Switzerland, to further discuss the submission.

Read our joint written submission

Read our oral statement

Read the OHCHR's summary of the discussion


 

Right to redress under the Convention Against Torture

At the invitation of the Association for the Prevention of Torture, REDRESS provided a briefing to States during a recent meeting in Geneva. It focused on the Committee Against Torture's General Comment on Article 14 that interprets the notion of "redress", namely victims' holistic rights to a remedy and reparation.

Read our briefing note

Read our submission on CAT General Comment 3, Article 14


 

REDRESS launches Universal Jurisdiction News

REDRESS has just launched Universal Jurisdiction News, a new monthly newsletter which will report on the latest case updates and other legal developments, news and publications related to universal jurisdiction worldwide.

Read UJ News here


 

Foreign Office's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative

REDRESS recently submitted a note on reparation to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, as part of a preparatory meeting ahead of the G8 summit in the UK next June. This initiative aims to strengthen international efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence in conflict. REDRESS provided the note: "What is reparation? Challenges and avenues to reparation for survivors of sexual violence", which was circulated to experts and State representatives involved in this process.

Read our note to PSVI

Read our manual Litigation strategies for sexual violence in Africa

Vous pouvez lire notre manuel Strategies d'action en justice dans les cas de violence sexualle en Afrique ici

Conferences and workshops

ICC outreach sessions in DRC

Ituri, DRC, 31 January, 1-3 February: REDRESS organised several outreach sessions on the ICC and reparations in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo. In these sessions, participants from affected communities were brought up to date on recent ICC developments, in particular the decisions relating to the conviction, sentence and reparation in the Thomas Lubanga case.


 

Second anniversary of the Arab Spring in Bahrain

London, UK, 6 February: REDRESS' Legal Advisor Kevin Laue spoke at a meeting organised by the Bahrain Pro-Democracy Group. The event marked the second anniversary of the Arab Spring in Bahrain, where serious human rights violations are still continuing. Laue spoke about the assistance that REDRESS has provided over a number of years to Bahrainis in their efforts to seek justice for systematic torture.

Read our submission on Bahrain to the Foreign Affairs Committee


 

ICC meeting in The Hague

The Hague, the Netherlands, 14 February: REDRESS attended a meeting between the ICC and civil society in The Hague. Among the issues discussed were the efforts to review the way victims participate in ICC proceedings. You can read more about this topic in our report The Participation of Victims in International Criminal Court Proceedings: A Review of the Practice and Consideration of Options for the Future.


 

REDRESS' new universal jurisdiction project launched in London

London, UK, 14 February: REDRESS invited more than a dozen experts and practitioners working in the field of universal jurisdiction and international criminal law to a meeting which mark the outset of our new universal jurisdiction project. The meeting brought together prosecutors, police, investigators, immigration authorities and lawyers from different European Union state members.


 

Victims' Rights Working Group's statement

The Hague, the Netherlands, 26 February: The Victims Rights Working Group, a network of over 500 civil society groups and experts which advocates for victims' rights, attended a meeting in The Hague ahead of the 12th session of the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC that will take place on 20-28 November 2013. The VRWG made a statement on a series of victim-related issues.

Click here to read the VRWG statement

Vous pouvez lire la déclaration du GTDV ici

Thank you for supporting us

Virgin London Marathon 2013

REDRESS is pleased to announce that our team of runners for the London Marathon 2013 is now complete! Amir Arasta, Luke Whiting, Stephen Jones, Andrew Pears and Ben Freedman will run the marathon on April 21. You can help them raise money for REDRESS' work by sponsoring them through their fundraising pages (click on the runners' name above to be redirected to the pages).

If you are a keen runner and were successful in securing a place in the London Marathon ballot, you can still join our team and help raise money for our work, without having to commit to a minimum level of sponsorship. Please contact liliana@redress.org for more information.

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.

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