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

These recent weeks have been busy for all at REDRESS. In Geneva, we briefed the Committee against Torture ahead of its examination of the UK’s human rights record; at the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights, we co-hosted a meeting of experts from eleven African countries to discuss reparation for torture and, in The Hague, we co-organised a significant panel discussion on victims’ participation in ICC proceedings. In addition, the landmark case of one of our clients, Leopoldo García Lucero, a Chilean torture survivor, was recently featured extensively in the Guardian and our report "Extraordinary Measures, Predictable Consequences" was highlighted by the EU as one of its key references on torture from EU funded projects and partner organisations.

As you will read below, there are many other developments we would like to share with you: please follow us on Twitter and Facebook to ensure you are kept up to date.

Warm wishes,

Dadimos Haile, Interim Director


 

 

Former UN High Commissioner of Human Rights joins REDRESS as Patron

REDRESS is pleased to welcome as a Patron distinguished former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Canadian Supreme Court justice and a passionate advocate of human rights, Mme Louise Arbour. Mme Arbour was the Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunals for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda (1996-1999); Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (1999-2004), and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2004-2009). She said of becoming a Patron: “REDRESS has consistently fought for the rights of torture survivors and their families, assisting them to obtain justice and reparation, for over twenty years. I am delighted to become a Patron to this worthy organisation that has so tirelessly sought to challenge impunity for torture and related international crimes.”

Read more

UN Photo by Ky Chung.

Case updates

Inter-American Court to rule on landmark reparation claim

The Inter-American Court on Human Rights is expected to give judgment in the next few months on a landmark reparation claim by a Chilean torture survivor who is a client of REDRESS. 

In late March, the Americas’ highest court heard testimony from Leopoldo García Lucero - a 79-year-old Allende ally - REDRESS’ lawyers, and the Chilean government, in Colombia.

In a moving interview with the Guardian last week, Leopoldo recalled his ordeal after being arrested during the military coup in 1973 and talked about his claim before the Americas’ highest human rights court with Owen Bowcott, the Guardian’s Legal Affairs Correspondent. 

Read the full article in the Guardian

Watch Leopoldo testify before the Inter-American Court on 20 March 2013 (in Spanish)

Read more about the case 

Advocacy work

G8 commitment to tackle impunity for rape in conflict welcomed  

Last month, the G8 countries agreed a Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict, stating that rape and other sexual violence in conflict is a war crime and constitutes a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, as part of the efforts within the UK Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative.  Amnesty International UK, REDRESS and TRIAL (Track Impunity Always) welcomed the Declaration, but issued a statement urging states to enact laws that facilitate the investigation and prosecution of conflict-related violence wherever it occurs and to take steps to ensure the Declaration results in many more trials. REDRESS will also be part of the working groups tasked with drafting an International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, a process within the Initiative.

Read our joint press release

Photo by FCO: Zainab Bangura, UN Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict at the G8 meeting in London on 11 April 2013.


 

Concern over new Libyan law criminalising torture

On 9 April, Libya’s National Assembly approved a law criminalising torture, enforced disappearances and discrimination. While the initiative provides a legislative framework for the prohibition and criminalisation of some of the most serious crimes, REDRESS, Lawyers for Justice in Libya, the Danish Institute Against Torture, and the World Organisation Against Torture remain concerned about some of the provisions in the law. An issue of concern is that by attempting to address these three significant human rights crimes in one piece of legislation, the law risks confusing or oversimplifying the specific obligations they impose. Another shortcoming in the law is the narrow definition of torture in it, which is not in accordance with the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Libya is a State party.

Read our press release

Read LFJL, REDRESS, DIGNITY, and OMCT preliminary comments on a draft of this law  

New reports and publications

Bahrain: fundamental reform or torture without end?

Torture and ill-treatment continue in Bahrain and obligations towards victims have not been met, despite some steps taken by the Government of Bahrain after the Bahrain international Commission of Inquiry (BICI) in 2011, conclude REDRESS and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) in a new report released in April. Bahrain must take further measures to prevent torture and ill-treatment, to investigate and prosecute past offences and to ensure that all victims have effective access to redress, state the organisations. REDRESS and IRCT also condemned the unilateral decision of Bahrain to cancel a visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Méndez in April, citing delays in “ongoing national dialogue”. This is the second time such as visit has been cancelled. REDRESS and ICRT urged Bahrain to reschedule the visit, particular in light of ongoing concerns over human rights violations in the country.

Read the full report

Read our press release on the report

Read our press release on the cancellation of Juan Méndez’s visit


 

UK: Comments on UK report to CAT

Over two days, on 7 and 8 May, the UN Committee Against Torture, which monitors the implementation of the international convention against torture, examined the UK’s human rights record. The session covered a range of issues, including the potential for withdrawal from the European Court of Human Rights, complicity for torture, the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, renditions to Libya, the Justice and Security Bill, and the use of diplomatic assurances. REDRESS was among the NGOs which briefed the Committee ahead of the session. REDRESS also submitted written observations to the Committee.

Read our written observations

Read an article about the sessions in the Guardian


 

Nepal: Briefing to the UN Human Rights Committee, 108th session, 8-26 July, pre-sessional meeting

Advocacy Forum Nepal, the Association for the Prevention of Torture and REDRESS have submitted this briefing for consideration by the Human Rights Committee in the Committee’s examination of Nepal’s second periodic report on measures taken to implement its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The organisations believe that the concerns highlighted in this briefing are underpinned by a deep-rooted culture of impunity for human rights violations, and the failure of the Nepali authorities to fully guarantee the absolute prohibition against torture.

Read our briefing


 

Draft Protocol 15 to the European Convention on Human Rights

REDRESS and several other NGOs recently sent an open letter to member states of the Council of Europe opposing the addition of a reference to the doctrine of the margin of appreciation in the Preamble to the Convention. The organisations consider that the text of this provision should be sufficiently broadly worded to reflect the fact that, as a judicial tool of interpretation, the doctrine of the margin of appreciation is to be developed and applied by the Court on a case-by-case basis. As such, in their letter the organisations suggest an alternative phrasing.

Read the open letter


 

Redress for Palestinian victims: Malaga Statement

Representatives of 13 Palestinian, Israeli, and international organisations, including REDRESS, came together with a number of international lawyers and experts from 23-24 April in Malaga, Spain, to discuss the critical situation facing Palestinian victims who attempt to seek compensation for death, injury, and destruction of property. The organisations called on the international, Israeli and Palestinian legal communities to help remove the legal and financial barriers to justice and redress for Palestinian victims.

Read the Malaga statement

Read the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights background report on denial of civil remedies

Conferences and workshops

Panel discussion on challenges facing the ICC (upcoming)

London, UK, 16 May

Dadimos Haile, REDRESS’ Interim Director, will be speaking on this panel. The discussion will also feature William R. Pace, Coalition for the ICC; Richard Goldstone, former prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and James Steward, International Criminal Court. It will be followed by a reception in honour of the Coalition for the ICC’s Advisory Board.  The panel discussion will last from 15:30 to 17:30 and the reception from 17:30 to 19:30. The event will take place at SOAS, Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square. RSVP to hahn@coalitionfortheicc.org or +1 646 4658529.

Photo by ICC-CPI/Wim Cappelen.


 

25th Anniversary of the UN Committee Against Torture

Geneva, Switzerland, 7 May

The 7 May marked 25 years of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, the guardian of one of the most widely accepted human rights conventions. REDRESS joined the celebrations in Geneva with a speech on redress for victims of torture.  We also launched a campaign together with several leading human rights organisations for universal ratification of the convention, calling on the remaining 42 countries to join the treaty and recognize the full competence of the UNCAT. 

Read the full speech

Read our statement calling for universal ratification of UNCAT


 

Strengthening victims’ participation before the ICC

The Hague, the Netherlands, 24-27 April

REDRESS and Amnesty International brought together a panel of experts to discuss how to ensure that victims’ participation before the International Criminal Court (ICC) is effective and meaningful for them. The meeting took place at a critical moment for the future of victims’ participation before the ICC, with reviews being considered by the Court and States Parties about the way they apply to and participate in proceedings. Experts’ conclusions will be published in the coming months.


 

Training in Africa on investigating allegations of torture

Johannesburg, SA, 23-24 April, and online training, 2-14 April

The Network of the African National Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) organised this training on the topic of investigating allegations of torture. The aim of the training was to strengthen the overall capacity of these institutions to prevent torture in their countries. About 30 such institutions participated in the training. The tutoring was provided by the APT and the NANHRI, together with REDRESS and the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims.


 

Crown Prosecution Service Community Involvement Panel

London, UK, 22 April

REDRESS participated in a Community Involvement Panel (CIP) meeting in London. Organised four times a year by the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the meeting is invitation-only, and functions as a forum where stakeholders engaged in the investigation and prosecution of suspected perpetrators of international crimes within the UK are invited to meet, share information in confidence and exchange views. Participants include the CPS, police officers, representatives of the UK Border Agency and Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), defence solicitors, academics and NGOs. The meeting focused on the theme of special mission immunity.

Read FCO Statement on Special Mission Immunity


 

Meeting of the EU Genocide Network

The Hague, the Netherlands, 16 April

REDRESS participated in the 14th meeting of the EU Genocide Network. The main focus of the meeting was the question of immunity of state officials from the criminal jurisdiction of foreign states. REDRESS along with TRIAL (Track Impunity Always), Amnesty International, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submitted a statement on this subject to the participants. In its final conclusions, the Network acknowledged the role that practitioners have to play in ensuring that immunities do not unduly shield individuals from criminal responsibility for these crimes.

Read the last issue of Universal Jurisdiction News


 

Litigating before UNCAT

Washington, USA, 15 April

REDRESS' Director, Carla Ferstman, joined a panel of experts at a conference in Washington to discuss best practices for litigation before the United Nations Committee against Torture, to better protect and assist victims of torture. The conference was sponsored by the American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL) and the World Organisation Against Torture. The Human Rights Brief at AUWCL will publish the conference proceedings in its upcoming volume 20.4.


 

Training in Tunisia

Tunis, Tunisia, 13-15 April

REDRESS’ Counsel, Lutz Oette, was part of a team of trainers in a workshop organised by DIGNITY together with the Organisation Contre la Torture en Tunisie (OCTT) titled “Documentation for torture - providing evidence for prosecution and reparation”. The workshop covered the application of the Istanbul Protocol. Participants included lawyers and health professionals from Libya and Tunisia as well as prosecutors from Tunisia.


 

Legal foundations for redress

Stockholm, Sweden, 17 April

Jo-Anne Prud’home, Legal Programme Officer at REDRESS, gave a keynote talk at the annual meeting of the European Network of Rehabilitation Centres for Survivors of Torture at the Swedish Parliament. The conference was organised in conjunction with the Swedish Red Cross. Much of the urgent rehabilitation work in Europe is done by volunteers and NGOs with uncertain funding. This conference discussed the role of the State to provide rehabilitation to victims of torture, looking at case studies, policy proposals and legal foundations for redress and rehabilitation.


 

"A Day in Iraq" conference

London, 5 April

REDRESS Counsel Lutz Oette spoke on "Torture and the struggle for justice" at this conference organised by Iraqi Women Solidarity. The conference featured testimonies from Iraqi women, researchers, writers, artists and activists.

REDRESS is looking for runners for the 10K

British 10K London Run

Want to run and raise money for torture survivors? We are now looking for runners for the British 10K Run on 14 July! Running through the heart of London and passing many historic landmarks, this is a great challenge for keen runners interested in supporting a worthy cause. We ask our runners for a sponsorship level of £225, with every penny raised supporting REDRESS' work on behalf of victims of torture. If you would like to run for REDRESS, please contact Liliana Rodrigues on liliana@redress.org or 020 7793 1777. For more info on the route, visit http://www.thebritish10klondon.co.uk/landmark.

Photo: REDRESS' runners after finishing the British 10K in 2012.


 

The Big Give Charities Raffle 2013

REDRESS is proud to be taking part in the very first Big Give Charities Raffle! This is a fantastic way of supporting REDRESS’s work on behalf of torture survivors while also having a chance of winning one of the following great prizes:

  • 1st prize - £2,000 cash, or a luxury holiday for two
  • 2nd prize - £1,000 cash
  • 3rd prize - £500 cash
  • 10 x runners’ up prizes of £50

Tickets cost just £1 (a minimum of 10 tickets must be bought = £10) and REDRESS will receive 96p for each ticket bought. Our aim is to reach £2,600 on the occasion of the 26th anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture, on June 26.

The amount raised will help us cover essential casework costs, such as court fees and medical and psychological reports to be used in support of the complaints of torture survivors. Additionally, the charity selling the most tickets will win £500!

To buy your tickets on behalf of REDRESS now, please go to REDRESS’ profile page in The Big Give here and select 'Buy Raffle Tickets'. For full details on the raffle, please click here.

Many thanks for your support... and good luck!

REDRESS 87 Vauxhall Walk, London
SE11 5HJ | Tel: +44 (0) 207 793 1777
Charity no 1015787
www.redress.org | info@redress.org
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