We work side by side with victims to obtain acknowledgment and redress for massive human rights violations, hold those responsible to account, reform and build democratic institutions, and prevent the recurrence of violence or repression.
Repairing from the Bench: From Finding Responsibility to Fashioning Judicial Redress
What does the obligation to provide reparations mean when serious human rights violations are at issue? This report explores the evolving interpretation of the right to reparation in international law and jurisprudence and how domestic courts have provided judicial reparations at the national level. It provides guidance to human rights defenders and courts that are trying to respond to victims of such violations in ways that affirm their dignity.
Violence perpetrated by the police and the military is dominating news around the world. Survivors, victims, activists, and lawyers on all continents have filed lawsuits against these violations in judicial processes. Among the key objectives for victims are to seek the truth and confirmation from authorities that a wrong was done to them and to obtain reparations. The premise that harm should be repaired is routine in domestic legal systems around the world. But what does the obligation to provide reparations mean, particularly when serious human rights violations are at issue? While reparations may be narrowly defined as the relief afforded to a successful claimant in a given proceeding, in practice they can take a range of forms. The right to reparation has expanded in recent decades through interpretations of international norms, in particular, the right of victims of human rights violations to an effective remedy.
This report draws on that evolving interpretation of international law and jurisprudence, much of it developed by regional human rights institutions in Africa, the Americas, and Europe; UN treaty bodies; and some innovative domestic courts. It identifies a series of judicial decisions interpreting international human rights law that have affirmed the content of the right to reparation for serious human rights violations that have upheld the rights of victims as much as possible. More than an analysis of the state of the field of the recognition of the right to reparation, the report provides guidance to human rights defenders and courts that are trying to respond to victims of such violations in ways that affirm their dignity and rights.
This guide also explores how domestic courts have provided judicial reparations at the national level. Two relevant questions are considered: Have they in fact complied with international decisions and relevant norms regarding reparations? Have they delivered by doing those things that we believe courts are better suited to do on behalf of victims? At the domestic level, very few analyses exist on how domestic judges grant reparations or the compliance of their decisions with international law, jurisprudence of international human rights courts, and decisions by international human rights bodies that govern reparations. This guide seeks to fill this gap through the analysis of decisions of domestic courts around the world with different specialties.