2022 in Focus: Challenging Torture Through Holistic Strategic Litigation


This article is part of a series of ‘In Focus’ pieces looking at some of our key achievements over the past year.

In it, REDRESS Head of Law Alejandra Vicente discusses REDRESS’s  work with anti-torture NGOs around the world to further the global movement against torture through training, the mutual sharing of expertise and promoting the practice of holistic strategic litigation.

By Alejandra Vicente, 

Twitter: @AVicente_Carr

In May, REDRESS launched a new series of practice notes on holistic strategic litigation. These practical guides aim to help lawyers, activists, and medical professionals bring legal challenges that have a broader impact outside of the individual case. They fall under our Solidarity programme, through which REDRESS seeks to further the global movement against torture, by a mutual sharing of expertise with colleagues and other NGOs.  

Holistic strategic litigation combines casework with other civil-society techniques such as advocacy, media, communications, and activism to ensure there is impact after the judgment, a community behind the client, and a cause behind the case. This could be through a change to policy, law, or general attitude that would help deter and prevent human rights abuses. 

It also enables a survivor to advocate for their own cause and assist legal teams to facilitate this through the provision of psychological, social, and medical help for the duration of the litigation process. Each practice note draws from REDRESS’s extensive experience working with this method, and benefit from comprehensive case studies. 

Seven practice notes are already available on the REDRESS website. They cover the law against torture; holistic strategic litigation against torture; implementation of judgments; the Istanbul Protocol; enforced disappearances in Africa; working with child victims of trauma; and facilitating strategic litigation workshops. 

These practice notes go hand-in-hand with training modules developed by REDRESS, videos and PowerPoint presentations to deliver workshops on strategic litigation against torture. The training materials are available on a dedicated page on the REDRESS website: redress.org/resources/training

We are grateful to the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture as well as the Matrix Causes Fund for their support on these projects. We hope they will aid lawyers and activists in putting together legal challenges that will help bring justice to survivors and shape the global movement against torture.