ICJ launches global redress and accountability initiative

The ICJ today launched a new global initiative focussed on redress and accountability for gross human rights violations.

In all regions of the world, perpetrators of gross human rights violations enjoy impunity while victims, especially the most vulnerable and marginalized, remain without effective remedies and reparation.

Governments of countries in transition and/or experiencing a wider rule of law crisis often seek to provide impunity for perpetrators of gross violations of human rights, or make no effort to hold them to account, or misuse accountability mechanisms to provide arbitrary, politically partial justice.

Yet international law requires perpetrators to be held accountable and victims to be provided with effective remedies and reparation, including truth and guarantees of non-recurrence.

This is reinforced by the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which recognizes the need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice, are based on the rule of law and respect for human rights, and provide for accountability.

“Impunity and lack of redress dehumanizes victims and acts as an impediment to the cementing of democratic values and the rule of law”, said Alex Conte, coordinator of the ICJ initiative.

Lack of accountability and claims for justice dominate national debates, frequently leading to a paralysis or reduced functioning of the institutions of the State and detracting from the pursuit of other rule of law and development initiatives.

Impunity threatens a nascent democracy by rendering its constitution hollow, weakening its judiciary and damaging the political credibility of its executive.

Public institutions often act in ways that bring them into disrepute and undermine the public confidence in them that is required for sustainable transition, for example through the legislature enacting laws providing for impunity, through law enforcement and the judiciary acting on a selective basis or without independence, and/or through the executive ignoring rule of law based judgments by higher courts.

A failure to guarantee redress and accountability has too often also resulted in former structures of power, to the extent that they enjoy impunity, transforming into criminal and hostile elements that may perpetuate violence and conflict.

The ICJ’s new initiative, generously sponsored by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, currently focuses on seven countries (Cambodia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Tajikistan, Tunisia and Venezuela) aims to combat impunity and promote redress for gross human rights violations.

It concentrates on the transformative role of the law, justice mechanisms and justice actors, seeking to achieve greater adherence of national legal and institutional frameworks with international law and standards so as to allow for effective redress and accountability; more independent justice mechanisms capable of dealing with challenges of impunity and access to redress; and judges, lawyers, human rights defenders, victims and their representatives that are better equipped to demand and deliver truth, justice and reparation.

The initiative will commence with the production of baseline studies on the situation in each focus country concerning accountability, access to justice/redress and the independence and accountability of judges and lawyers.

These will form the basis for tailored plans of action for each country identifying interventions and capacity building activities that can best drive the brining to justice of perpetrators of human rights violations and the access of victims to effective remedies and reparation.

Implementation of those activities will follow, alongside the production of global manuals and guides on key challenges for redress and accountability.

GRA Initiative Factsheet

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