2023 in Focus: Centring Survivors’ Voices
By Camila Marin Restrepo, Communities Officer
June 26th marked the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. To commemorate the day and strengthen the UK’s response to torture, REDRESS united with UK-based survivors of torture and leading anti-torture organisations to support survivors in seeking accountability, redress, and much needed policy change.
Through detailed consultation with survivors of torture, REDRESS developed a “Survivors of Torture Manifesto”, which sets out recommendations to the UK government on how to remove the main barriers that prevent them from accessing justice and covers several priority issues including accountability, rehabilitation, asylum, and immigration.
We also published the report “Whose Justice? Reflections from UK-Based Survivors of Torture”, which for the first time canvassed the views of survivors of torture and their family members in the UK on what justice meant to them in practice and what were their key barriers to achieving it.
To advocate for policy and legal reforms, we developed the Survivor Advisory Group, an advisory group of survivors of torture and their families. Individuals with lived experience bring a range of skills and expertise, as well as the profound commitment to preventing others from experiencing what they have been through.
At REDRESS, we are committed to survivor-centred advocacy and continue to work collaboratively with survivors and anti-torture organisations, enriching and strengthening the UK’s anti-torture movement.
Seeking justice and accountability through human rights mechanisms is often a lengthy process that can take several years, which can be incredibly difficult for individuals who have experienced trauma and may have social, economic or immigration challenges that they are also trying to navigate. This is why working in collaboration with survivors to build their inner confidence and trust in others, through initiatives such as our Manifesto and the Survivor Advisory Group, are so important.
As Tawanda Muchehiwa, a law student and survivor of torture from Zimbabwe, explains:
“Ultimately, involving survivors in the anti-torture sector’s processes can lead to more effective policies, better outcomes for survivors, and a greater respect for human rights.”
Photo: REDRESS. Matthew Hedges, who was tortured in the UAE, and his wife Daniela.