Omct complaints workshops
Litigating Torture Cases before the UN Treaty Bodies
Background: litigating individual complaints before the UN Treaty Bodies is an important way of obtaining redress for victims of torture and a key strategy in the fight against impunity. Beyond holding states to account for serious human rights abuses, the Treaty Bodies’ views on individual communications establish international legal precedent and further clarify the scope and application of fundamental human rights norms.
In 2007 – 2008 OMCT is hosting a series of workshops designed to train human rights advocates in the presentation of individual communications to the Human Rights Committee and Committee against Torture. The workshops gather NGOs from around the world in a small group setting for intensive 3 day trainings focussing on the acquisition of practical litigation skills and substantive thematic understanding of the prohibition of torture under international law. The jurisprudence of the international human rights bodies is discussed in detail.
The Complaints Workshops are held at the OMCT Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. The first one took place 10 – 12 July 2007. The following ones will take place on 6 – 8 November 2007, May 2008 and July 2008. All training materials, including the OMCT Handbook Series and the expert presentations are available on our website. Click here to see the materials of our first workshop: 10 – 12 July 2007.
Purpose: to equip participants with knowledge, skills and understanding in the following key areas:
- Filing procedures and admissibility rules of the Treaty Bodies
- Evidence and establishment of facts in torture cases
- Effective complaints drafting
- Client & case management
- Choice of forum: treaty bodies vs. regional systems
- Recent trends in torture jurisprudence
- Effective follow-up to Treaty Body views on communications
Methodology: Taking full advantage of OMCT’s location in Geneva, participants benefit from the contributions of leading experts in the field of human rights including UN personnel, academics, practitioners and OMCT staff. The programme of work will includes :
- Lectures by UN and academic experts.
- Case studies, skills-development exercises and interactive group discussions
- “Moot Court” exercises based on hypothetical scenarios
Training Materials: The workshops use “Seeking Remedies for Torture Victims: a Handbook for Victims and their Advocates”, Vol. 4 of the OMCT Handbook Series, as the main teaching resource. This book contains a detailed guide to the Treaty Body complaints procedures as well as exhaustive analyses of the relevant jurisprudence of the Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture.
Participants: The workshops are designed to benefit members of the SOS-Torture Network as well as other NGOs actively engaged in the struggle against torture and who are operating in countries that have accepted the right of individuals to complain about violations before the HRC and CAT Committees. Participation is funded by OMCT and limited to 10 participants. Registration materials are typically sent out 2 to 3 months in advance of the trainings to members of the SOS-Torture Network and to NGOs that have submitted applications for Network membership.
Follow-Up to Workshop: Following the conclusion of the workshops, participants are invited to identify individual cases that can be litigated jointly with the OMCT Secretariat. This exercise will serve to consolidate the lessons learned at the Geneva workshop and will assist participants in autonomously developing their own national case loads.
For further information on the OMCT Complaints Workshops, contact Anna-Lena Svensson-McCarthy, Legal Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org
The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) wishes to thank the European Commission for funding the OMCT Complaints Workshops.