REDRESS Pays Tribute to the Legacy of our Founder Keith Carmichael and is Honoured to Continue His Mission 

REDRESS is deeply saddened to announce the recent passing of our founder Keith Carmichael. In the years following his arbitrary detention and torture in Saudi Arabia, Keith had a profound impact on the lives of many survivors of torture around the world. 

Keith passed away peacefully on Thursday, 21 March in London, as communicated by Stephanie Deckrosh, a Trustee of REDRESS who remained a close friend throughout his life and provided support to him in his later years. 

We will long remember Keith for his determination not only to hold his own torturers to account, but also to prevent others from enduring the same abuses he suffered. Throughout his struggle for justice, Keith acted on behalf of countless victims of torture. We are honoured to continue his mission. 

In the seventies, Keith set up a successful company in Saudi Arabia, which built warehouses, medical centres and housing for foreign companies managing major projects, but following a dispute over contractual commissions with a Saudi prince, he was unlawfully imprisoned, without charge or trial, from 2 November 1981 until 7 March 1984. 

During his 857 days of arbitrary detention Keith was tortured. He endured three months of solitary confinement and a result of beatings, suffered grave bodily injuries, including a fractured spine and permanent damage to his feet and knees, which drastically reduced his mobility. He also experienced psychiatric trauma, which caused symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder that affected him for the rest of his life.

After returning to the UK in March 1984, Keith realised that while the right to reparation existed in law, the practical obstacles in obtaining reparation proved difficult to overcome for most survivors. While existing British NGOs helped survivors in many ways, by campaigning for the release of prisoners, providing safe havens, and medical care, there was not a specialist organisation dedicated to helping survivors obtain reparation for the harm they had suffered, which plays a key role in their healing and re-empowerment. 

Reflecting in 2007 on the many difficulties faced by survivors Keith said: 

“The process of obtaining justice and reparation is challenging and draining of energy and life. For many of us, and I am one survivor of torture who has met many others, the goal is for States to admit that we have been tortured. Importantly, we would like to receive an apology. We would like to see the torturers punished. We need to prove that they did not succeed in destroying us as human beings. We need financial compensation for medical treatment, to enable us to reclaim our lives and again become contributing members of society.” 

In the years following his return to the UK, Keith consulted numerous experts and organisations with extensive experience in human rights and the law on reparation for torture and related human rights violations. Some of these experts included the late Peter Davies, former Director of Anti-Slavery International; Dame Rosalyn Higgins, the former president of the International Court of Justice; Leah Levin, former Director of Justice, and the American legal scholar David Weissbrodt, who shared the same interest in seeking ways of obtaining reparation for victims of torture. Keith also met with many other survivors who wanted to seek redress but did not know how to do so. After concluding that there was a need for such a specialised organisation, Keith registered the REDRESS Trust as a charity in England and Wales on 10 December 1992, United Nations Human Rights Day.  

Since its founding, REDRESS’ mission has always been about helping survivors of torture obtain redress and making accountable the perpetrators of torture. These were central to the founding objectives and remain critical to its mission to this day. REDRESS continues to pursue this mission by seeking justice and reparation for survivors; challenging perpetrators’ impunity; promoting legal and policy reforms to combat torture; and collaborating with organisations around the world to eradicate this crime. 

REDRESS’ cases have produced landmark judgments and decisions in favour of many survivors from human rights courts in Africa, the Americas, Europe and the United Nations, including the first case of torture motivated by discrimination ever decided by a human rights court in the Azul Rojas Marin case and the first ever judgment of the Inter-American Court concerning a living survivor of torture under Pinochet’s dictatorship in the Leopoldo Garcia Lucero case.   

REDRESS today has projects and cases in over 30 countries and works with hundreds of survivors of torture around the world. None of this would have been possible if it were not for the resolve, courage and vision of our founder.  

REDRESS extends our heartfelt sympathy to Keith’s family and friends, and the many people touched by his efforts. Keith’s 40-year quest for justice left an invaluable contribution to the anti-torture movement and will continue to inspire all of us who dream of a torture-free world. 

 A memorial service celebrating Keith’s life will be held at 2pm on 7 May 2024 at St Simon’s Zelotes (34 Milner Street, London, SW3 2QF). Please join us in paying tribute to a life fully lived by joining us at the service or sharing a reminiscence on this email: [email protected]. Keith’s family would also appreciate if in lieu of flowers, gifts to REDRESS are made.