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NEWSLETTER NO.1 July 10TH 2014

Dear friends and colleagues

The right to redress for Gender Based Violence survivors

“Victims of sexual violence bear the cost of the harm they suffered with dramatic physical, psychological and material consequences which destroy not only their lives but often also the lives of their children. This creates irreparable damage to the very fabric of societies and in turn poses serious threats to the prospects of reconciliation and sustainable peace and development.”

Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Rape, being recognized as torture or other ill-treatment, may today be prosecuted as an act of torture (and therefore subject to universal jurisdiction). Rape is furthermore identified as a war crime (state and non-state actors), a crime against humanity (state and non-state actors) and as genocide (state and non-state actors). This means that the right to redress is enforceable for victims of gender based violence (GBV) according to the Convention against torture art. 14, and outlined in General comment no 3 on the implementation of article 14.

For survivors of GBV to seek redress after what they have suffered may be important steps in reestablishing the survivor´s dignity and integrity. Recognizing the violations as serious crimes that must be addressed through truth and justice seeking, may form an important platform in the lives of survivors, but this must often be combined with forms of reparation such as providing care and support with regard to physical, psychological or social needs through a range of services. The right to a remedy and reparation is thus, articulated as an integrated right that consists of access to justice, compensation, rehabilitation and other forms of reparation. We have, pursuant to the adoption of General Comment no 3, to article 14 of the CAT, been particularly aware of the importance of ensuring psychological support to survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence, both immediately after the violence if possible, and as part of reparation. In order to strengthen the focus on psychological needs of survivors, HHRI has developed a manual to assist helpers who meet victims of these crimes in situations where specialized services may be scarce and the level of insecurity high. See more information on our manual further down.

As for the main theme in this newsletter we have gathered important articles that address the issue of redress to GBV survivors, including the legal as well as the physical, psychological and social aspects.

Articles and publications that highlight the importance of securing redress for GBV survivors

  • What is reparation? Challenges and avenues to reparation for survivors of sexual violence Redress 2013
    For many victims, monetary compensation, while helpful, is not necessarily the first form of reparation that comes to mind. In many instances, victims will be living in dire physical, psychological or social conditions and have immediate as well as long term needs, both for themselves but also for their dependents. They may need services or the financial means to access services. However the mere provision of compensation or services would not amount to full and adequate compensation on account of the absence of recognition of wrongdoing.
  • Redress for Rape Using international jurisprudence on rape as a form of torture or other ill-treatment Redress 2013
    It is now clearly established at the international level that rape is a crime of the highest order, that states do have the responsibility to prevent and respond to it, whoever commits it, and that survivors of rape are entitled to the same level of protection and response as any other victim of violence. Torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment3 are high profile international crimes and human rights violations. Advocates and others have drawn on the torture framework to pursue individual cases and to push for policy change. The primary aim of this report is to bring together the developing international human rights law jurisprudence and significant other writing linking rape and torture and other ill-treatment in a comprehensive and useable way.
  • Gender and torture - conference report Amnesty International and RedreSS 2011
    Conference report the recognition of certain forms of harm inflicted by both state and non-state actors including rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation and denial of reproductive rights as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the practical effect this recognition has had in actual cases to hold states to account for their failure to prevent such violations, and to provide a remedy to victims.
  • Protection and restitution for survivors of SGBV in Uganda 2010 ACORD Uganda
    Some forms of reparation may find a legal basis in domestic law or in international human rights law, while other forms are a matter of government policies and priorities. The right to compensation for survivors of torture is an individual subjective right in Uganda’s domestic legal system and is justiciable in criminal, civil, administrative or other proceedings.
  • Healing the spirit: Reparations for survivors of sexual violence related to the armed conflict in Kosovo OHCHR 2013
    OHCHR commissioned this study with three primary aims: to highlight the most prevalent consequences of sexual violence committed during the armed conflict in Kosovo; to analyse the current state of affairs with respect to reparations for these crimes; and to highlight the most desirable forms and methods to provide redress for these crimes from the perspective of its survivors.
  • DRC victims of sexual violence rarely obtain justice and never receive reparation - Major changes needed to fight impunity
    FIDH 2013
    In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), victims of sexual crimes are facing insurmountable obstacles to obtain justice and reparation. The cost of proceedings is prohibitive and judicial decisions are hardly implemented. This is the damaging picture described in a report FIDH and its member organisations in DRC are publishing today, following several missions in that country.
  • Report of the Panel on Remedies and Reparations for Victims of Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the High Commissioner for Human Rights OHCHR 2011
    This need to raise the status of victims of sexual violence and publicly shift the blame from victims to their perpetrators is integral to the reparation of victims of sexual violence and adds a unique dimension to the task. The reparations fund envisioned by the National Strategy to Combat Gender-Based Violence in the DRC is a fund specifically for victims of sexual violence.
  • Nairobi declaration on women’s and girls’ right to a remedy and Reparation OHCHR 2013
    OHCHR commissioned this study with three primary aims: to highlight the most prevalent consequences of sexual violence committed during the armed conflict in Kosovo; to analyse the current state of affairs with respect to reparations for these crimes; and to highlight the most desirable forms and methods to provide redress for these crimes from the perspective of its survivors.
  • Latest about our training manual on GBV and Mental Health consequences

    We are now in the final stage of our training manual for helpers working with GBV survivors. The manual is designed for individuals who directly provide care, help and assistance to people who have been exposed to human rights violations and abuse, notably gender-based and sexual violence, and for personnel who support other care providers involved with the same survivor group. To ensure the quality and that the manual is useful in different cultural settings, we conducted four pilots in 2013. This was done in cooperation with LIMPAL-Liga Internacional de Mujeres por la Paz y la Libertad, in Colombia, Human Rights Foundation Turkey in Adana, Turkey. In Cambodia we cooperated with AFESIP-Cambodia on the third pilot training and with Kristin Andrea Wilmann on a mini-pilot in Oslo, Norway. The last training was conducted together with Arab Resource Collective in Amman, Jordan. Plain Sense has edited and finalised the manual. Please let us know if you are interested in receiving a copy of the manual, free of charge by sending us an e-mail.

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    Upcoming events

    We appreciate feedback and comments

    As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

    Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.300 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

    If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

    Sincerely yours

    Health and Human Rights Info
    Elisabeth Ng Langdal
    Executive Director
    postmaster@hhri.org
    www.hhri.org

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    NEWSLETTER NO.4 DECEMBER 23rd 2013

    Dear friends and colleagues

    Mental health and psychosocial support for refugees

    In 2013 we have witnessed several emergency situations, such as the situation in Syria, including the refugee crisis that the conflict has created in the neighboring countries; heavy fighting in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and severe natural disasters such as flooding in Bolivia, Colombia, Mozambique, and the typhoon in the Philippines. As a result of these emergency situations people have suffered and will struggle in the years to come to cope and try to rebuild their lives. In settings of mass displacement the community structures, that usually regulate normal life and community well-being, frequently breaks down. This again may lead to social and psychological problems worsening existing problems. As we all know, mental health is crucial to the overall wellbeing and productivity of individuals, communities, and countries recovering from emergencies. As a possible support to all those involved in trying to assist people in these highly stressful situations, we have gathered and will present some guidelines that have been developed for this purpose, that is to strengthen mental health as part of humanitarian assistance in and after emergencies.

    Manuals that highlights the importance of securing mental health support

    • Operational Guidance Mental Health & Psychosocial Support Programming for Refugee Operations 2013 UNHCR
      This operational guidance on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) provides a practical orientation and tools for country operations. It covers specific points of good practice to consider when developing MHPSS programming and offers advice on priority issues and practical difficulties, while also providing some background information and definitions. The focus is mainly on refugees and asylum seekers, but it may apply to others in both camp and non-camp settings, and in both rural and urban settings in low and middle-income countries. This guidance has an extensive link collection on strategies, policies and other resources throughout the guide.
    • Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings: What should Camp Coordination and Camp Management Actors Know? IASC 2012
      Humanitarian assistance agencies try their best to help people with their psychosocial needs in the immediate aftermath of emergencies. In spite of the adversity and challenges they create – are openings to transform mental health care. Can Emergencies be opportunities to build better mental health systems for all people in need? This report provides the proof of concept that it is possible to build back better, no matter how weak the existing mental health system or how challenging the emergency situation.
    • Mental Health and Psycho-Social Support (MHPSS) to Persons of Concern UNHCR 2013
      An evaluation reports on how well UNHCR considers and provides for the well-being and mental health of the Persons of Concern. The report offers a new way to look at humanitarian assistance. It calls into question the appropriateness, sensitivity, and empathy of humanitarian interventions and demands that humanitarian agencies support avenues for displaced people to address and heal their own trauma.
    • Facebook

      Please check out our Facebook page and like us. On our HHRI face book page are posting new and relevant articles that we add to our web site, as well as newsletters and videos.

      Upcoming events

      We appreciate feedback and comments

      As always we are delighted to receive comments and suggestions for the HHRI web page. In order to improve our assistance to those working with psychosocial support with persons in situations of conflict, emergency and subjected to human rights violations, we need information from you. We are also interested in spreading news about events and conferences held in Asia, Latin America and Africa.

      Health and Human Rights Info writes and distributes this newsletter, currently reaching more than 4.300 subscribers, free of charge. If you receive this newsletter for the first time, it is either because someone has recommended that we add your e-mail address to the list of subscribers, or because we believe that you might be interested in some or all of its content. Consider it an offer. If you want to continue to receive this newsletter, you don't need to do anything.

      If you know anyone who would be interested in receiving this e-newsletter about our project, please forward it, and encourage them to sign up by sending us an e-mail.

      HHRI wish you a peaceful 2014 with improved conditions for justice and human rights for all.

      Sincerely yours

      Health and Human Rights Info
      Elisabeth Ng Langdal
      Executive Director
      postmaster@hhri.org
      www.hhri.org

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