“Ninety-five percent of torture today is not for political prisoners; it is for people who are in broken-down legal systems,” says Karen Tse, founder of International Bridges to Justice.
A former public defender, Karen Tse developed an interest in the intersection of criminal law and human rights after observing Southeast Asian refugees held in a local prison without trial, often tortured to obtain “confessions.” In 1994, she moved to Cambodia to train the country’s first core group of public defenders. Under the auspices of the UN, she trained judges and prosecutors, and established the first arraignment court in Cambodia.
In 2000, Tse founded International Bridges to Justice to help create systemic change in criminal justice and promote basic rights of legal representation for defendants on the ground. Her foundation complements the work of witness groups, who do the equally vital work of advocacy, reports, photographs. Tse’s group helps governments build new systems that respect individual rights. In IBJ’s first years, she negotiated groundbreaking measures in judicial reform with the Chinese, Vietnamese and Cambodian governments. It now works in sixteen countries, including Rwanda, Burundi and India.
She says: “I believe it is possible to end torture in my lifetime.”
You can connect with IBJ via their Facebook page.
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A meeting of African experts on the law and practice on torture was held in Naivasha, Kenya in May 2012.
It was organised by REDRESS in collaboration with the Independent MedicoLegal Unit (IMLU) as part of the project on “Reparation for Torture: Global Sharing of Expertise” supported by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
The meeting formed a part of a series of regional events that REDRESS has organised in different parts of the world that seek to strengthen
collaboration of practitioners to more effectively combat torture. The contributions made before and during the meetings will form part of regional and global reports on the law and practice relating to the prohibition of torture.
It provided an opportunity to exchange information and experiences on litigating torture cases and advocating legal and institutional reforms.
Throughout, experts identified both systemic challenges and best practices in relation to promoting accountability and redress for torture.
The summary report of 11 pages can be read at Redress here. You can also read the full 42 page Torture in Africa: The Law and Practice report from September 2012. This is an important resource for those in the field, and indeed all human beings.