Victim Participation in Criminal Law Proceedings: New Report and Upcoming Expert Conference
REDRESS is pleased to announce the release of a detailed study of domestic practice of victim participation in criminal law proceedings which was published today in partnership with the Institute for Security Studies. A French version will be made available shortly.
This report analyses victims’ rights to engage in criminal proceedings and in particular the extent to which a range of domestic jurisdictions provide victims with rights to play an active role. Such rights may include the right to launch proceedings, to challenge decisions not to prosecute, and to make statements in court.
The aim of this report is to support the efforts of states to develop and apply a framework for victim participation when investigating and prosecuting international crimes. It is hoped that this report will provide a useful reference for actors in domestic systems engaged in wider discussions on victims’ rights.
The report will be launched during an expert conference organised by ISS and REDRESS in Pretoria on 8-9 September 2015 which will bring together practitioners, lawyers, prosecutors and civil society actors from a number of African countries to discuss how to strengthen victims’ participation in domestic criminal proceedings for international crimes.
Preparatory meeting to draft a General Comment on the right to redress for victims of torture under the African Charter
The Committee for the Prevention of Torture in Africa (CPTA) decided during the last ordinary session of the African Commission that victims’ right to redress was not comprehensively set out in relevant instruments adopted by the African Commission. Following this decision, the CPTA, in collaboration with REDRESS, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, convened a two-day meeting in Accra, Ghana, from 6 to 7 July to begin developing a General Comment on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture and Ill-Treatment under the African Charter. The meeting brought together 28 national, regional and international experts on the absolute prohibition of torture and victims’ right to redress. The Committee will publish a report on the meeting. For further information, please contact our Legal Advisor Jürgen Schurr on email@example.com.
Comments on Draft Recommendation on Women's Access to Justice
REDRESS and the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA) have published a commentary on The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Draft Recommendation on Women's Access to Justice, which is now available to read here. The comments contain suggestions for how the draft may be strengthened in order to ensure that the Recommendation promotes full access to justice for women.
Advocacy and litigation workshop in Uganda
From 24-27 August 2015, REDRESS, together with its partner, the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project (EHAHRDP), held a workshop on strategic advocacy and litigation at regional and international levels. The workshop brought together human rights defenders from the East and Horn of Africa, and sought to strengthen their capacity to better pursue legal challenges and advocate on behalf of human rights defenders at risk of or having suffered serious violations of human rights.
Photo credit: B. Hussein Soetoro
Inter-American Commission orders precautionary measures against USA for Guantanamo Detainee
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered precautionary measures in the case of Guantanamo detainee Mustafa Al-Hawsawi on 7 July, asking the US to provide him with the medical care required to treat injuries he incurred in detention and interrogation by its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Mr Al-Hawsawi suffers from Hepatitis C among other ailments. Some of the abuses he suffered at the hands of the CIA -including "sodomy with a foreign object”- were described in a US Senate Committee on Intelligence report released last year. Mr Al-Hawsawi has been detained in Guantanamo Bay since 2006, where he has received poor and sporadic medical care. An analysis of public evidence suggests that he was held at undisclosed locations in various European countries, including Lithuania, after being kidnapped in 2003 in Pakistan. REDRESS has been working to clarify the role of these states where he is believed to have been detained and interrogated.
Photo credit: Reprieve
REDRESS to intervene in Belhaj case before the Supreme Court
On 29 July 2015 REDRESS and other human rights organisations were granted permission to intervene before the Supreme Court in the case brought by a former anti-Gaddafi leader, Abdul-Hakim Belhaj, and his wife, Fatima Bouchar, against the British intelligence and security officials they claim were involved in their abduction and illegal transfer to Libya, where they were tortured.
In 2013, the High Court struck out their lawsuit after finding that, even though they had a “potentially well-founded claim” that the UK authorities were “directly implicated” in their abduction, the case should not be heard because it could damage UK-US relations. In 2014, however, the Court of Appeal ruled that they had the right to sue these officials. The Court held that the risk of displeasing other States could not outweigh the imperative of providing victims access to justice.
The UK government has been granted permission to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court on both the issue of foreign act of state and state immunity.
UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention calls on release of British activist jailed in Ethiopia
In a case that REDRESS and REPRIEVE are supporting, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the immediate release of Andargachew Tsege, a British citizen and Ethiopian opposition activist, and for him to be compensated. He was kidnapped while in transit at the airport in Sanaa, Yemen, handed over to Ethiopian officials and taken, without any legal process, into Ethiopia. The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights is also considering the responsibility of Ethiopia for a variety of breaches of the African Charter.
Sudan: REDRESS and partners pursue case on behalf of lawyer
REDRESS and partners continue to pursue a complaint on behalf of Abdel Moneem Adam Mohammed against Sudan before the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). Mr Mohammed is a Sudanese lawyer who was arbitrarily arrested in 2014 by Sudanese intelligence and security officers after providing legal assistance to human rights activists. In a new submission to the ACHPR on 10 July, we argued that our complaint from 20 February 2015 should be considered admissible as our client cannot obtain an effective or sufficient remedy in Sudan. We asked the ACHPR to examine allegations that Sudan has violated several of Mr Mohammed's rights under the African Charter.