2023 in Focus: Challenging Torture to Suppress Dissent

By Julie Bardeche, Legal Advisor @JulieBardeche


REDRESS continues to challenge the use of torture as a tool to supress dissent in several countries, including Sudan, Egypt and Belarus.

Since 2021, REDRESS has been co-leading the International Accountability Platform for Belarus (IAPB). This innovative civil society platform led by Belarusian and international organisations has been collecting evidence on human rights abuses committed during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and preserving it in digital archives to ensure that it will be available one day to hold perpetrators of these abuses accountable.

To date, the IAPB has collected information and evidence from over 2,300 survivor-victims and witnesses and over 750,000 open-source intelligence files. Given that there is no reasonable prospect for justice in Belarus for victims, preserving this evidence is crucial.

The IAPB also provided information and evidence to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which contributed to its findings, presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2023, that human rights violations in Belarus may constitute crimes against humanity. The documentation shared with the UN High Commissioner included 180 cases of sexual and gender-based violence, which led to the finding that sexual and gender-based violence has been committed in Belarus.

REDRESS has also documented the international humanitarian law violations which have happened in Sudan since the recent armed conflict started in April 2023. These violations include the targeting of journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders by the warring parties. The analysis was conducted with the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Shortly after this report, an international independent Fact-Finding Mission was established to investigate the international crimes committed in Sudan.

More recently, we drew attention to the endemic use of torture by authorities in Egypt through submitting a detailed legal analysis to the UN Committee against Torture which found the Egyptian authorities’ use of torture is so widespread and systematic as to amount to a crime against humanity. The analysis was conducted in collaboration with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), Dignity, the Committee for Justice (CFJ) and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

Photo: Guy Corbishley/Alamy Stock Photo