A milestone for the protection of torture victims in Africa as first regional instrument on their right to redress is adopted
The first-ever regional instrument on the right to redress for victims of torture and other prohibited ill-treatment has been adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), the institution responsible for the promotion and protection of human rights in Africa.
The General Comment on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment was adopted during the African Commission’s Extraordinary Session on 27 February 2017, the Commission announced on 9 March 2017.
The General Comment offers much needed clarification to African Member States on their obligations towards victims of torture and ill-treatment. REDRESS, together with other human rights organisations, provided technical support to the CPTA during the development process of the General Comment.
Photo credit: UN Photo by Stuart Price
Together, the transitional justice mechanisms of Nepal have received over 61,000 complaints and cases of rights violations committed during the decade-old armed conflict. But inherent flaws have seriously impeded their work from the outset, including a lack of consultation with victims in the early stages, inadequate resources and little government support.
REDRESS together with TRIAL International and several NGO partners in Nepal called this month for the Government of Nepal to extend their mandate and provide them with sufficient resources. While the organisations recognise that the transitional justice mechanisms are far from perfect, they believe they remain victims’ best chance to access truth and obtain reparations.
Photo credit: UN Photo by Steve Malloch.
Uganda: Roundtable on the International Crimes Division
The International Crimes Division (ICD) is the first domestic court in Uganda to try international crimes. Last month, REDRESS organized a round-table discussion with actors of the ICD at the High Court in Uganda together with the International Center for Transitional Justice and the Human Rights Center at the University of California, Berkeley, in Kampala. The participants discussed victims’ rights and participation at the ICD by looking at examples from other jurisprudence, including the US and the ICC.
Turkey: REDRESS among international observers monitoring Doctor Serdar Küni’s trail
On 24 April 2017, REDRESS’ Director Carla Ferstman joined a group of international organisations to observe the second hearing of the trial against Serdar Küni, a doctor and veteran human rights defender in Şırnak, Turkey.
Dr. Küni, who is also de Cizre representative of the Human Rights foundation of Turkey, was arrested last October, accused of “providing treatment to alleged militants” and not informing security services about it.
During the second hearing of his trial on 24 April 2017, he was convicted for “aiding and abetting terrorist organizations”. The court sentenced Dr. Kuni to four years and two months imprisonment, but released him from prison pending his appeal.
Dr. Küni has defended his duty as a physician “to treat every person who needs urgent treatment”.
REDRESS submitted an amicus curiae to the court on the inadmissibility of torture evidence.
Dr. Küni alleges that the evidence presented against him consists of four statements made from four individuals who have since withdrawn them and who have claimed the statements were made after they were tortured.
The second hearing was attended by dozens of people, including family members and supporters and six observers from Germany, UK, Norway and Spain.
REDRESS was part of the International Delegation of Trial Monitors along with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee; the German Medical Association and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War-Germany (IPPNW); IPPNW, European section; War Resisters’ International (WRI) and La Transicionera.
The international delegation observing the court monitored this trial because of concerns about the targeting of members of the medical profession for carrying out their professional responsibilities.
In an statement released on 25 April 2017, the International Delegation of Trial Monitors state that Dr. Küni's arrest, detention and prosecution “is part of a wave of arrests, dismissals and other legal actions taken against human rights defenders, medical professionals, lawyers, journalists, and academics since July 2015 in the southeast, and throughout Turkey, after the failed military coup in July 2016.”