International standards on the rights of victims of torture, the duty to provide them with reparations, and on the absolute prohibition of torture are often ignored. Some governments seek to water down these hard-won protections, and state immunity is still a significant obstacle to achieving redress for torture.
Civil society must push for the development of new rules, the effective implementation of existing legal protections, and guard against any diminution of the standards of protection. Through litigation and advocacy aimed at setting international standards, REDRESS ensures their effective application on the prohibition of torture, the rights of victims, and the right to reparations.
REDRESS has helped to develop anti-torture laws and international standards that make it easier to provide reparations and punish perpetrators, including the UN Basic Principles on the Right to a Remedy, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2005, the UN Committee Against Torture’s General Comment No. 3 on Article 14 (Right to Redress), adopted in 2012, and the African Commission’s General Comment No. 4 on the Right to Redress for Victims of Torture under Article 5 of the African Charter, adopted in 2017. We then use these new standards in the legal cases we bring on behalf of our clients.
REDRESS has challenged immunity for torture in several cases, including intervening in the landmark Augusto Pinochet case in the United Kingdom and in the Kallon case at the Special Court for Sierra Leone. We have also commented on amnesties in a range of countries, including Bahrain and Chile, and have argued before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights that Chile’s amnesty legislation prevented torture survivors from accessing an effective and prompt remedy.
REDRESS secures effective reparations for victims through projects including:
- A new initiative to respond to the connection between grand corruption and human rights abuses, by taking action to seize the corrupt assets of high-profile human rights abusers and, where possible, have them assigned as reparations for the benefit of their victims.
- We are collaborating with other anti-torture NGOs to produce an update to the Istanbul Protocol for the effective investigation and prosecution of torture.
- We are seeking the implementation of decisions in more than 20 cases of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Human Rights Committee.
- Following the publication of our joint report Tainted by Torture, on the prevalence of evidence obtained through torture, we are seeking to improve the applicable legal standards in some problematic jurisdictions. We are also using strategic litigation to introduce effective safeguards to prevent and reduce incidents of torture in criminal justice systems.
- Conducting research in the Netherlands on the ill-treatment of detainees in pre-trial and immigration detention, and publishing a report on the rights of victims of crime in detention, making specific recommendations to relevant stakeholders to ensure full compliance with the rights of victims (read our recommendations in English here and in Dutch here). We have also produced posters to inform victims of violence in pre-trial and immigration detention of their rights. See here the Bill of Rights for Victims in Pre-Trial Detention: English and Dutch. Download here the Bill of Rights for Victims in Immigration Detention: English and Dutch.