International Standards

REDRESS works to set international standards to ensure justice and reparation for survivors worldwide

Promoting and strengthening international standards and regional and international institutions that reflect survivors’ rights to justice and reparation is a key area of REDRESS’ work.

REDRESS closely monitors national and international developments in this field, and works with regional and international experts on a range of standard setting initiatives.

Survivors’ rights must be recognised and protected in international legal instruments, such as treaties, declarations and principles. Furthermore, the interpretation of these instruments must positively affirm survivors’ rights in context.

Standard setting at the international level can clarify and systematise the law in areas where jurisprudence and legislation have developed haphazardly and it is difficult to locate the state of the law. Such initiatives can also help identify gaps that can be addressed so survivors can better exercise their rights.

REDRESS plays a significant role in standard setting related to torture and reparation. This includes support to the development of General Comments and practice guidelines issued by regional and international organizations, like the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the UN Committee Against Torture, as well as the development of rules and procedures of key international institutions such as the International Criminal Court (ICC). This is important as work on the ICC’s procedures has an impact on the practices of other national and international courts.

Key themes we have pursued in our work to promote international standards

A key theme of REDRESS’ international standard setting work in recent years has focused on the prohibition of using of torture and ill-treatment in the context of counter-terrorism operations. Our work has focused on the absolute nature of the prohibition against torture, and the need for accountability of those officials and security agencies whose actions have led to individuals being tortured in different parts of the world.

REDRESS has also worked to challenge immunities and amnesties that act as a bar to redress for survivors of torture. This is a theme that has arisen in many of REDRESS’ cases and is an issue we have sought to pursue through law reform.

REDRESS has highlighted the obligations of states not to refoul persons to a country where they face a real risk of torture. There is an absolute prohibition on refoulement to torture, but this prohibition is often ignored, particularly in light of the anti-migrant political climates in many countries.

Evidence procured by torture is not admissible in court proceedings, other than to prove that torture has occurred. The rule banning torture evidence helps take away one of the main incentives to torture – to procure a confession in a criminal case. REDRESS has been working to clarify these standards and to ensure that evidence obtained by torture is not admitted in our clients’ cases.