2023 in Focus: Using Perpetrators’ Assets to Fund Reparations

By Natalia Kubesch, Legal Officer


All survivors of torture must receive effective reparations for the suffering inflicted on them. This can take the form of compensation or the implementation of practical measures.

As part of a new initiative under our 2025 Strategy, REDRESS has continued to pursue legal and advocacy avenues to challenge the financial impunity that some high-profile perpetrators of torture enjoy. This includes taking action to seize their corrupt assets and, where possible, using them to provide reparations to their victims.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, REDRESS has been working with partners in Ukraine and around the world to explore routes to deliver reparations to victims affected by the conflict in Ukraine. As part of this work, we have called on the UK government to repurpose Russian assets frozen within the UK to address victims’ urgent needs and to uphold their rights to reparations, including rehabilitation.

Since the announcement in March 2022 that £2.5 billion funds from the sale of Chelsea Football Club by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich might be earmarked for a charitable foundation to aid victims of the war in Ukraine, REDRESS has pressed the UK government to engage with victims and take the steps necessary to make this foundation operational.

We have also developed and advocated for a novel legal basis to overcome the challenges of confiscating assets in the UK, given that currently UK law does not provide the tools needed to confiscate and repurpose assets frozen under sanctions.

In addition, as part of this project, we have continued to raise awareness of the reparations landscape in Ukraine and increased the capacity of civil society and survivors to engage in the reparations mechanisms available or being created. This also includes working on an interlinked initiative, which seeks to strengthen the capacity of civil society and other actors to submit sanctions submissions under the UK framework in relation to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and assess the impact of sanctions.

Photo: Reuters. Luxury cars confiscated from Teodoro Obiang.