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

Welcome to the August 2014 edition of Reparation News. Please find below a summary of recent case updates, news and publications from REDRESS. For the most up-to-date information from REDRESS, you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Warm wishes,

Carla Ferstman, Director


 

Case updates

REDRESS will intervene in post-election sexual violence case in Kenya

In February 2013, a coalition of civil society organisations and a number of sexual violence victims filed a constitutional petition to the High Court of Kenya. The petitioners claim that during the post-election violence in 2007/2008 numerous forms of sexual and gender-based violence were committed against women, men, girls and boys, including rape and forced circumcision.

The petition is brought against various representatives of the Kenyan state, including the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Inspector-General of the National Police Service. The Petitioners argue that the Kenyan authorities failed to protect the victims during the period of civil unrest and did not fulfill their obligation to investigate and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence afterwards. The petitioners also evoke the failure to provide reparations to the victims.

REDRESS filed an application to be joined as amicus curiae on 31 July 2014, which the High Court allowed in the hearings held on 27 and 28 August 2014. In the upcoming submission, REDRESS will address the international legal framework as well as international and regional jurisprudence on the state obligation towards victims of sexual and gender-based violence, with a focus on reparation measures.

Photo by Julius Mwelu/IRIN News Service


 

REDRESS seeks to intervene in Ntaganda war crimes case before the ICC 

Bosco Ntaganda is said to be a former commander to the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) and faces charges before the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, conscription of child soldiers and forcible transfer of population, allegedly committed during the conflict in Ituri, north-eastern DRC, in 2002-2003.

The ICC is currently deciding on how best to enable victims to apply to participate in Ntaganda's trial. REDRESS is seeking to intervene in the case as a third-party, along with Avocats Sans Frontières (ASF), in order to highlight practical issues relating to the two different application and participation systems under consideration, and in particular, a possible tiered application and participation process.

We have proposed to the Court to submit a report based on consultations with victims, affected communities and other stakeholders in Ituri, DRC, about the practical issues that may impact their participation in the case. Our submission would also cover factual information regarding victim communities’ experiences with the tiered application system implemented at trial in the Kenya cases.

Application by REDRESS and ASF for leave to submit observations 

Advocacy work

REDRESS presses for the release of Maryam Al-Khawaja, human rights defender from Bahrain

REDRESS has called on the Bahraini authorities to release prominent Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja, who was arrested on her arrival at the airport in Bahrain on 30 August. Ms Al-Khawaja, a Danish-Bahraini who is the Co-Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, had travelled to Bahrain to see her father, Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for taking part in peaceful demonstrations in 2011. REDRESS is gravely concerned for Ms Al-Khawaja safety, given the ongoing allegations of torture of detainees and political prisoners in Bahrain.

REDRESS is urging diplomatic representatives in Bahrain to press the Bahraini Government to free her immediately, as well as to release the other human rights defenders unjustly jailed. More specifically, REDRESS has asked Danish consular officials to request immediate access to Maryam to assess her welfare, as mistreatment of detainees often occurs in the first days in custody. REDRESS has also appealed to EU States and the UN main expert on the situation of human rights defenders to intervene on her behalf.

On 25 August REDRESS, together with 13 other human rights organisations, wrote a letter to King Hamad of Bahrain encouraging his government to comply with its treaty obligations to provide victims of torture with physical and psychological rehabilitation. Many victims continue to suffer from the injuries sustained during their detention in 2011, and they claim that they have never been offered any physical or psychological rehabilitation, despite Bahrain’s obligation to do so under Article 14 of the Convention against Torture, to which Bahrain is a state party. In July REDRESS also co-authored a letter to Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond expressing concern over the human rights situation in Bahrain. 

Read our press release on Maryam Al-Khawaja

Read the joint letter from 25 August here

Read the letter to Philip Hammond here

More information on our work in Bahrain here

Photo by Amnesty Student.


 

Submission to the UK Foreign Affairs Committee

The Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) has published our written submission, in which we respond to their inquiry into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Human Rights and Democracy Report for 2013, published in April. REDRESS expressed concern over the ongoing failure to fully investigate allegations of UK complicity in torture abroad and extraordinary rendition flights, as well as the need to ensure that the UK is not a safe haven for international crimes suspects.  

Read our submission

Read the submission on the FAC website

Read the FCO's 2013 Human Rights and Democracy Report 

Publications

Victims' Rights Working Group's ACCESS bulletin and Victim's Rights Legal Update now available in Spanish and French

The Spring edition of the Victims' Rights Working Group's ACCESS bulletin has now been published in Spanish. The bulletin includes articles on Katanga's judgment at the ICC; the lack of justice for DRC rape survivors in the Minova case; an interview with Ms Kristin Kalla, Senior Programme Officer at the Trust Fund for Victims; the potential of the Ugandan International Crimes Division as a model for Kenya; Syria and the ICC, and much more. The bulletin is also available in English and French. 

Access bulletin Español

Access bulletin English

Access bulletin Français

The latest ICC Victims' Rights Legal Update has also been published in French. It includes summaries of International Criminal Court decisions and related pleadings relevant to victims from 1 May to 31 July 2014. The current issue includes decisions from cases relating to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Kenya and Libya. The legal update is a publication from the Victims' Rights Working Group, a coalition of groups that promotes victims' interests before the Court. 

Mise à jour juridique sur les droits des victimes devant la CPI

Victims’ Rights Legal Update


 

REDRESS Annual Report 2014

Our annual report for 2014 has been published. In the last year REDRESS has worked in more than 25 countries with around 850 individual survivors. We had a notable victory at the Inter-American Court where Leopoldo Garcia Lucero won his 40-year battle for justice for the torture he endured in Chile under the Pinochet regime. We have fought against police brutality in Russia, helped women fight against sexual abuse in Egypt, and seen the African Commission vindicate the claims of 88 internally displaced persons in Sudan that they were arbitrarily arrested, detained, and tortured.

As well as our casework, we have advocated for strong procedures at the International Criminal Court to ensure victims’ access to justice and reparation, and to ensure victims have the opportunity to express their views and concerns to the Court. We have welcomed positive steps by the British Foreign Secretary in galvanising support for his Prevention of Sexual Violence Initiative. We have also continued our programme to provide training and technical support to local groups in the DRC, Kenya, Uganda, Bahrain, Libya and Nepal, among others, to continue the fight for victims’ access to justice. 

REDRESS has joined forces with more survivors and lawyers working on their behalf in all regions of the world to pursue remedies for torture and related international crimes. Impunity remains a deep-seated problem in many countries where we work but it is a problem that can be confronted and should be overcome.

Read the Annual Report here


 

REDRESS Legal Advisor published in Oxford Journal of International Criminal Law

Sarah Fulton, REDRESS’ International Legal Advisor, has been published in the Oxford Journal of International Criminal Law. In her article, "Redress for Enforced Disappearance: Why Financial Compensation is not Enough", Sarah argues that providing only financial compensation to victims of enforced disappearance is not sufficient to address the effects that the violation has had, nor to address the overriding concerns of the victims. She claims that a comprehensive and holistic approach is needed to provide remedy to victims – a process requiring interlinked components: truth, holistic reparation, criminal accountability and other measures to ensure non-repetition. She further suggests that the mechanisms of international human rights law and international criminal law can reinforce each other and provide important impetus to states and individuals to meet their obligations to victims, as well as an alternative forum of redress.

Read the article here 

Conferences and workshops

UPCOMING FREE SEMINAR: REGISTRATION OPEN

REDRESS and Matrix Chambers - Torture Survivors: Justice, Reparation and Accountability

Thursday 9 October, 6pm - 8pm (registration from 5.30pm)

RSVP to Annie Bargione: rsvp@matrixlaw.co.uk | 0207 404 3447

Matrix Chambers, Griffin Building, Gray’s Inn, London, WC1R 5LN

It is estimated that at least 30% of asylum seekers have been tortured and/or ill-treated. The number of UK citizens known to have been tortured abroad is also steadily increasing. Upon returning, arriving or obtaining status in the UK, some torture survivors come to REDRESS for advice on their options to seek justice, reparation and accountability for the ill-treatment they experienced.

The aim of this seminar is to provide a broad overview of how REDRESS aims to fulfill its mission to obtain justice for survivors of torture, hold accountable the governments and individuals who perpetrate torture, and develop the means of ensuring compliance with international standards and securing remedies for victims.

Speakers include: Hugh Southey QC (Matrix); Kevin Laue (REDRESS UK Legal Advisor); Carla Ferstman (REDRESS Director) and Harpreet K Paul (REDRESS Caseworker).

All are welcome subject to space. Please RSVP in advance. If you have any special requirements, please advise on booking. CPD accredited: 1.5 hours. No charge.

Go to event page


 

UPCOMING FREE SEMINAR: REGISTRATION OPEN 

Austerity & Legal Aid: Impact on the vulnerable

10 October 2014, 9.30am - 4.30pm

RSVP to Inga Matthes: inga@redress.org | 0207 793 1777

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG

REDRESS is convening this workshop to discuss upcoming changes to legal service provision, the impact of changes to welfare and support services that have already been bought into force, the current state of the law on issues that vulnerable individuals often face, and the ways that relevant groups can work better together. 

The workshop will include: Legal Aid Changes with Frances Trevena (Barrister, Rights of Women); Accessing Welfare with Gerry Hickey (Solicitor); Accessing Housing with Indira Kartallozi (Chrysalis Family Futures); Collective Data Collection for Potential Litigation with Hannah Chambers (Solicitor, Islington Law Centre); Challenging Detention of Vulnerable Individuals (Wilson LLP); Forced Return with Nigel Leskin (Partner, Birnberg Peirce and Partners); and Accessing Healthcare with Sasha Rozansky (Solicitor Advocate, Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors).

Colleagues and friends are welcome subject to space. If you have any special requirements, please advise on booking. No charge.  

Go to event page


 

Regional Seminar on Preventing and Eradicating Torture in Africa

1-3 September 2014, Johannesburg, South Africa

REDRESS is participating in the Regional Seminar on Preventing and Eradicating Torture in Africa organised by the Article 5 Initiative in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 1 to 3 September. The seminar brings together different stakeholders, including representatives from government, national human rights institutions, the African Commission as well as civil society from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, South Africa and Mozambique to explore a regional perspective on experiences with the absolute prohibition of torture. REDRESS' Legal Advisor Juergen Schurr will give a presentation on the right to redress in the African human rights framework, focusing on challenges as well as opportunities of its implementation in practice.

Read REDRESS' 2013 report on reparation in the African human rights framework

See the agenda of the seminar 

REDRESS mourns the loss of Helen Bamber OBE, a relentless advocate for victims of torture

REDRESS was deeply saddened to hear that Helen Bamber OBE passed away on 21 August at the age of 89.  For seventy years, Ms Bamber dedicated her life to helping victims of the worst human rights abuses, especially victims of torture, find the dignity and strength to rebuild their lives.

Ms Bamber began her career at 20, working with survivors of the Holocaust in the former concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen in Germany. Since 1945, she helped tens of thousands of survivors to confront their horrific experiences with pioneering methods that are still used today, such as the integrated method of care that she developed.

She was involved in the creation of the first medical group in the British section of Amnesty International, and later founded the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture (now Freedom from Torture) and the Helen Bamber Foundation, which provides care, support and legal protection to survivors of human rights violations. Ms Bamber was a remarkable and truly inspirational human being and her death is a great loss for human rights.

Click here to visit the Helen Bamber memorial page

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