Asset Recovery Project
REDRESS has launched a new initiative to respond to the connection between grand corruption and human rights abuses, by taking action to seize the corrupt assets of high-profile human rights abusers and, where possible, have them assigned as reparations for the benefit of their victims. We are exploring the viability of legal routes to seize corrupt assets and researching individual situations where such claims could be tested.
REDRESS’ Framework for Financial Accountability for Torture and Other Human Rights Abuses (‘The Framework’) is designed to serve as a tool to help identify, develop and evaluate potential case strategies for pursuing financial accountability for torture and other serious human rights abuses.
Who is it for?
It is designed to be used by NGOs and practitioners around the world that act on behalf of victims.
What does it do?
By identifying a range of legal and advocacy models that promote financial accountability, we hope to challenge the financial impunity that some perpetrators enjoy. A core objective is to use perpetrators’ assets to fund reparations for their victims where appropriate mechanisms permit this. The models are evaluated in light of this objective. But even where this use of perpetrators’ assets to compensate their victims is not feasible, we have identified models that promote financial accountability by depriving perpetrators of assets (or at least their use and enjoyment).
The Framework considers models including:
- Private law claims
- Human rights claims against states
- Administrative and civil law claims against states
- Non-conviction based confiscation mechanisms
- Criminal confiscation and compensation mechanisms
- Sanctions (including ‘Magnitsky’-type sanctions)
- Targeted advocacy to the financial sector
Why was it created?
Corrupt regimes often use torture and other serious human rights abuse to maintain their power, by silencing critics, suppressing opposition, and intimidating the population. Meanwhile, they embezzle millions, or even billions, of dollars from their countries. Beyond governments, businesspeople; civil servants; judicial officers; prison systems; and the social elite, among countless others, are profiting financially and professionally from corrupt activities that support human rights abuses. Assets are often spirited abroad, behind shell companies and other mechanisms designed to protect them.
Victims of torture have the right to reparations. Effective reparation includes a variety of remedies for the victim of a human rights violation. But without compensation, victims are often unable to rebuild their lives, or to obtain the medical and psychological support that is essential for their recovery. All too often, however, victims do not obtain full reparation for the harm that they have suffered, particularly financial compensation and practical assistance. While the international community has supported the creation of several trust funds in response to massive human rights violations, many of them remain unfunded, undermining confidence in the effectiveness of human rights and the rule of law.
How was it developed?
The Framework was developed in consultation with other NGOs specialising in corruption and international accountability, and through dialogue asset tracers, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Crime Agency (NCA), the Metropolitan Police, the FCDO, litigation funders, and specialist lawyers, among others.
This project was generously supported by the Knowledge Platform for Security and the Rule of Law.
In the course of developing the Framework document, we have identified a number of policy and practice recommendations, which are set out in the Policy Briefing: Financial Accountability for Perpetrators of Torture and Other Serious Human Rights Abuses. These are divided between recommendations for practitioners, and legislative and policy recommendations.