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REDRESS marks 20-year fight for survivors on Human Rights Day

Monday 10th December will be celebrated worldwide as International Humans Rights Day, marking the 64th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The day also coincides with the 20th Anniversary REDRESS, the British-based international NGO with a mandate to seek justice and reparation for torture survivors.

Since its founding on 10 December 1992, REDRESS has been at the forefront of the fight for justice and reparation on behalf of torture survivors, helping hundreds of torture survivors from over 50 countries over the years with its staff in London and partners in the field.

As we look back over the last 20 years, we have cause for both celebration and concern. REDRESS celebrates the progress in the fight against torture since the Universal Declaration, in particular, the adoption of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention Against Torture as well as developments at national level, which have helped protect the rights and freedoms of many around the world.

However, a gap remains between the promises of international human rights norms and the actions of governments and others. In many countries where we work, from Democratic Republic of Congo to Peru and to Sri Lanka, people continue to be tortured with impunity by governments, armed groups and non-state actors.

The Arab Spring revolutions have also confirmed once more the pervasive use of torture to quash dissent. Sadly, anti-terrorism measures taken by the UK, the US and other western governments have also weakened respect for the absolute prohibition on torture, and in some case these states have themselves been implicated in torture as well as being complicit in it.

Twenty years on, therefore, there remains a lot to be done. REDRESS will continue to fight against torture and for torture survivors’ right to reparation until we are closer to a world without torture. On 12 December, REDRESS will celebrate its 20th anniversary and renew its commitment with friends, colleagues and supporters at a special event in London.

The event includes a reception and a screening of two films produced by award-winning filmmaker Fiona Lloyd-Davies. The films document REDRESS’ history since its founding by British torture survivor Keith Carmichael and feature interviews with him and co-founder Leah Levin, as well as with several torture survivors.

Lloyd-Davies is particularly well known for her work with Salam Pax, the “Baghdad Blogger”, and her work in Africa. She was awarded a Royal Television Society Award for her film for BBC2 about honour killing in Pakistan entitled “License to Kill”.

For further information, RSVP or to request an interview, please contact:

Eva Sanchis at [email protected] or +44 (0)20 7793 1777.

Background information

On 10 December 1992 British torture survivor Keith Carmichael founded REDRESS after being brutally tortured in Saudi Arabia, where he spent 857 days in arbitrary detention in the early 1980s. Seven weeks before his release Prince Salman, Governor of Riyadh, acknowledged it had been a mistake.

Why redress? Following his release in 1984, Keith realised that while existing British NGOs helped survivors in many ways – by campaigning for their release, providing safe havens and medical care – none assisted them to obtain reparation. While the right to reparation existed in law, the practical difficulties in obtaining reparation proved difficult to overcome.

REDRESS’ mission has always been about helping torture survivors seek justice and obtain redress and make accountable the perpetrators of torture. These were central to the founding objectives and remain critical to redress’ mission to this day.

REDRESS’ work: REDRESS currently works on dozens of cases relating to several hundred survivors. More than half of these survivors are from Africa.

REDRESS also works with survivors from over 40 countries in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East. REDRESS has a small team based in London. It doesn’t have country offices preferring to work directly with local NGOs and other actors on the ground.