Seeking Justice

Transitional Justice in Practice

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Thank you for joining Jasmina Brankovic and Sufiya Bray of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), Galuh Wandita and Patrick Burgess of the Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) and the New Tactics online community for this discussion on Transitional Justice in Practice that took place on May 12 to May 23, 2014.

Over time, the action and concept of transitional justice has evolved into a method used to promote and implement democracy and sustainable peace. Two examples of transitional justice are truth commissions and institutional reform, however individual acts and processes of transitional justice are utilized differently based on the approaches, countries and the cultural context.

Engaging Regional Human Rights Mechanisms

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Thank you for joining Lisa Reinsberg of the International Justice Resource Center and the New Tactics community for the online conversation on Engaging Regional Human Rights Mechanisms from April 21 to 25, 2014.

Regional human rights mechanisms play an important role in monitoring government compliance with human rights obligations. These courts and commissions provide a way for individuals and groups to hold governments accountable for the failure to protect human rights. In the Americas, Europe and Africa, regional human rights bodies receive individual complaints, monitor and report on human rights conditions, and issue emergency protective measures. These are powerful mechanisms for holding governments accountable for their human rights records if you know how and when to engage them.

Engaging the United Nations Human Rights Council

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Thank you for joining the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the New Tactics online community for an online conversation on Engaging the United Nations Human Rights Council from February 11 to 15.

The Human Rights Council (HRC) is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. When utilized strategically, the HRC can be a powerful force for change. There are several different ways that human rights organizations can engage the HRC, including: providing reports for the Universal Periodic Review, sending complaints to the Special Procedures, and raising situations of human rights violations in the plenary sessions of the HRC. The key is to know when to use which approach, and how to maximize your efforts.

Familiar Tools, Emerging Issues: Adapting traditional human rights monitoring to emerging issues

Researchers during an interviewThe Advocactes for Human Rights (formerly known as the Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights) uses traditional human rights monitoring methods to document human rights abuses.  The group has also made a practice of adapting this methodology to emerging human rights issues. Minnesota Advocates has identified and developed practical and sustainable strategies for adapting human rights monitoring methods to address domestic violence (in Eastern Europe and the U.S.), child survival (in Mexico, Uganda and the U.S.) and transitional justice (in Peru).

Reparations: Using civil lawsuits to obtain reparation for survivors of human rights abuses and to challenge the impunity of their abusers

Group of citizens holding a posterThe Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA) represents survivors using the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) and the Torture Victim Protection Act, which gives both U.S. citizens and noncitizens alike the right to sue human rights abusers who live in or visit the United States. CJA has effectively used these acts to help end the possibility of abusers using the U.S. as a safe haven, to assist survivors in gaining reparations, and to break the silence that has enabled abusers to live in impunity.

Uncovering the Evidence: The forensic sciences in human rights

Forensic anthropologists uncovering human remainsForensic science has been a powerful tool in the scientific documentation of human rights violations around the world, and especially in Latin America. The Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team has been in the forefront of efforts to train human rights NGOs to use forensic tools to advance their investigations, to provide more support for victims and to strengthen the credibility of their work against impunity.

Expanding Access to Justice: The Instituto Pro Bono in São Paulo

Banner held by protesters in BrazilUntil a few years ago, there were no legal firms in Brazil that offered free services to people in need. The Pro-Bono Institute has created a new legal tradition in São Paulo, convincing major law firms to donate their legal services and connecting them with NGOs in need of legal services. The Institute has recruited about 140 lawyers and is offering a variety of free services to all kinds of NGOs, including support for important human rights cases. It has achieved a rapid change in attitude in the legal community and pro bono work has become steadily more popular.

Testing for Discrimination: Identifying and Prosecuting Human Rights Abuses

The Legal Defense Bureau for National and Ethnic Minorities (NEKI) in Hungary learned about a testing tactic from a U.S. group that had successfully proved instances of housing discrimination by sending in “testers” of different races to apply for apartments. Similar discrimination was also occurring in Hungary against the Roma population – in housing, employment, access to public spaces and public services and other areas. NEKI adapted the tactic of testing to fit into its strategy of using lawsuits to challenge human rights violations.

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