Newsletter - January 2015




Workshop on sexual violence and torture


TRIAL held a workshop in Sarajevo mid-December on international human rights standards for survivors of sexual violence and torture.


Representatives of NGOs and the Ombudsman Office of BiH attended this workshop, conducted by Adrijana Hanušić, legal advisor at TRIAL and Selma Korjenić, Sexual Violence coordinator.


The training addressed several crucial issues related to the support to survivors:


- the access to justice and redress

- the need for psychosocial support

- the role of the media in protecting           human rights


Athough the war in BiH has ended two decades ago, thousands of victims are still waiting for justice and reparation before national and international judicial institutions. Capacity building of local stakeholders therefore remains a key-challenge.
















Too much impunity. Too many enforced disappearances


TRIAL and eight civil society associations submitted a report to the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances (CED) in December 2014, in a bid to call on Mexico to deal with the issue of enforced disappearance.


Despite the worrying increase in cases of enforced disappearance, Mexico has indeed not adopted adequate measures to ensure that:


- victims are searched for

- investigations are conducted

- those responsible are identified and      sanctioned


Mexico has also failed to put in place a system of mutual legal assistance with neighboring States in spite of the alarming number of enforced disappearances of migrants and the transnational dimension of this phenomenon.


In light of this situation, the NGOs’ report highlights the existence of several pitfalls in the existing legislation and provides answers to the questions previously formulated by the CED. TRIAL and its partners also recall that this legislation violates in many ways the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.


The UN will examine Mexico in February 2015. The NGOs call on the country to put an end to the current situation and to provide justice to thousands of victims.





A Transitional Justice plagued by flaws


After many years of failed attempts to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the Nepalese Parliament had finally passed the TRC Act in April 2014.


The Commission was expected to be effective mid-December 2014, but the indifference of Nepalese authorities towards wartime victims is once again in the limelight, as no TRC commissioners have yet been appointed.


TRIAL urges the government to promptly set up the TRC but recalls that this transitional justice mechanism presents numerous loopholes and remains an unsatisfactory model in ensuring the rule of law. The Commission indeed breaches numerous international human rights standards and was conceived without the participation of the victims.


The UN Human Rights Committee has also recently taken a clear stand about the TRC in decisions concerning two victims defended by TRIAL (Basnet and Tripathi). 


The TRC should indeed be no substitute to the criminal proceedings that must be conducted against perpetrators of gross human rights violations in Nepal, reminded the UN. 








“Crime Hunters” DVD is out


“Crime Hunters”, the documentary by Juan José Lozano and Nicolas Wadimoff coproduced by RTS is now available on DVD.


The two film directors followed TRIAL on the track of war criminals. Through their camera we discover the captivating field investigations conducted by the NGO lawyers in order to prosecute the authors of the worst crimes before Swiss jurisdictions.


The film highlights the hurdles repeatedly faced by TRIAL’s legal team in its fight against impunity.


It also reveals the victories won in the name of justice, likewise the Sperisen case depicted in the film.


“Crime Hunters” is now for sales online and in the usual outlets (RTS, etc.).



A victim of torture obtains justice

The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) has recently condemned Burundi for acts of torture inflicted on former Secretary General of the People's Reconciliation Party (PRP).


Déogratias Niyonzima was tortured in 2006 by agents of the National Intelligence Service (SNR) and held in arbitrary detention for five months. Years later, he still suffers from the consequences of the inhumane treatments he was subjected to.


Compelled to leave his country following death threats against him and his family, he has never ceased to seek justice. But the Burundian government systematically gave him the cold shoulder.

Following a complaint filed by TRIAL, the CAT finally condemned Burundi and requires the country to:


- investigate into those acts of torture
- prosecute and punish the authors
- compensate the victim
- inform the UN, within three months, of  the measures taken to comply with its  obligations


This long awaited decision was delivered shortly after the CAT’s review of Burundi and the publication of its recommendations. TRIAL welcomes the UN’s position and encourages the country to take all the necessary steps to offer justice and redress to Déogratias Niyonzima.




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