Seeking Redress

Using humor and street art to hold politicians accountable

Street artists from URA.RU in Yekaterinburg, Russia decorated potholes with the faces of local politicians in order to get them to address severe road quality problems.

The streets in Yekaterinburg had long been plagued with many unfixed pits and potholes. Despite the efforts of URA.RU, a local news website, the problem persisted. Local politicians were more concerned with their public image than with improving the streets, so none took a genuine interest in finding a solution.

Examining budgets to reveal social and economic inequities and persuade the government to rectify them

The Children’s Budget Unit (CBU) at the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (IDASA) uses national and provincial budgets to reveal whether the government is meeting its commitments in protecting the rights of children and to provide recommendations.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using testing to prove discrimination and obtain direct evidence

NEKI uses testing to prove discrimination and obtain this direct evidence. The group identifies and trains people who are sent out as testers to replicate the actions of those who claim to have experienced discrimination. Each tester must be a reliable and objective observer and his or her profile must match that of the person who expe­rienced discrimination as much as possible. NEKI then uses the evidence collected to initiate legal proceedings against the offending business or organization.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Using civil lawsuits to seek redress for victims of torture

The Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) helps victims of torture by using United States Federal Laws to bring charges against their torturers, regardless of the country in which the torture took place. This tactic shows that redress can be sought against perpetrators of torture. In creating and applying these kinds of laws, governments show a commitment to justice for victims and to exposing those who are guilty of crimes against humanity.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Engaging local leaders to use their influence to help end abuse

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice in Ghana solicits the support of respected commu­nity leaders — chiefs and queen mothers — to address the problem of trokosi, a system in which women and young girls are kept in fetish shrines without their consent. Families give their girls to the shrines to atone for the sins or crimes committed by a family member, and to thereby end or reverse a family’s bad luck.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Mobilizing public resources for a socially marginalized group

ICAR’s tactic is part of a strategy to convince the government to take responsibility for the nation’s past in order to build a better future. Many of the torturers from communist-era Romania escaped with impunity and some now occupy influential positions in society. Victims face a society in which substantial forces would prefer to forget the past — and its victims — rather than learn from that past in order to build a deeper civil commitment to democracy and human rights.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Creating alternative mechanisms of dispute resolution to prevent the involvement of the police, who are potential abusers.

As an alternative to the criminal justice system, the Centre for Victims of Torture (CVICT) in Nepal has created a process of community mediation. This process keeps some people from being needlessly arrested and brought to police stations, where 60 percent of prisoners are tortured into giving confessions. CVICT conducted research on what types of disputes were occurring, then developed a training course for com­munity leaders, including women and Dalits (of the untouchable caste), on settling disputes with a rights-based community mediation method. Community mediation would be available for disputes other than violent crimes and to everyone, regardless of age, sex, class or social caste. To recruit trainers, CVICT held mass meetings in each community and asked for nominations. The trainers were then trained in human rights, local laws and methods of handling disputes. Many who were already involved in mediating disputes could build on their existing skills. These trainers then trained others at the local level.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

Rewriting traditional stories to gain a gender-sensitive perspective

The Women and Memory Forum (WMF) in Egypt started the Women’s Stories project to allow women to rewrite traditional stories from their own perspectives, giving women an opportunity to challenge traditional texts, redefine their role in society, and develop writing skills by rewriting these stories to show an egalitarian or woman-centric perspective. 

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