Thursday 29 March 2012

Paper on Reparations in Torture Cases in Strasbourg

Professor Bill Bowring of Birbeck College of the University of London has posted a working paper on SSRN on Strasbourg's practice of reparations in torture cases. It is entitled 'What Reparation Does a Torture Survivor Obtain from International Litigation? Critical Reflections on Practice at the Strasbourg Court'. This is the abstract:

Although the Strasbourg Court is primarily a mechanism for the protection of individual human rights, many of the leading cases on violation of Article 3 have a collective or a structural dimension. This is of great importance for the CAT definition of torture, which is that torture must have a purpose. Thus, the author’s experience of many Kurdish and Chechen complaints against Turkey and Russia respectively have to do the consequences of self-determination struggles and repressive state responses. Or, as in many of the Russian cases concerning Article 3, the structural problems of the Russian penitentiary system, in which the officers, mostly ex-military, see the prisoners as the enemy. A successful claimant at Strasbourg in most cases obtains a declaration that a violation has been committed by the government, and a sum of money in “just satisfaction”. Compared with the practice of the Inter-American Court, this is minimalist. The enforcement procedure through the Committee of Ministers, for general measures, is opaque and slow. The question remains: why do it?