A call for action – be part of the fight against impunity – the Justice Equation

For too long powerful states – the so-called “Western liberal democracies” - have systematically violated the human rights of their citizens and non-citizens with virtual impunity. As a result of their privileged political and economic positions in the word order, rarely do these states suffer any serious criticism for their rights breaches internationally and they are often not brought to account for individual human rights breaches. Individual victims of rights abuses are in a position of weakness and vulnerability vis-a-vis states exercising at times unchecked and seemingly unfettered power. Such victims and are too often without effective recourse to justice for rights breaches not only due to the current on-going erosion often of human rights protection in these states due the expansion of state power but also due to the lack of equality in access to the justice system legal system as a result of inadequate funding for free legal aid services providing representation to those who cannot afford it.

We, Zoe Anderson and Natacha John, want this to change. We are tired of sitting on the side-lines watching these blatant breaches of human rights while no one does or says anything. We are in the process of setting up an NGO called The Justice Equation through which we will promote access to justice for victims of rights abuses by states through three independent but inter-related areas of action, namely, information resources, advocacy and law reform. The particular focus areas in the initial phase will be police brutality or excessive force, abuses committed in prisons and detention facilities whether on-shore or off-shore but under the effective control of the state, and abuses committed in the context of the “war on terror”. We will concentrate our efforts in the initial phase on three powerful states with poor human rights records and which are responsible for on-going abuses: the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. The victims whom we will endeavour to assist will not be limited to, but will often be, non-citizens or citizens of states who are members of ethnic and religious minorities, often disproportionately affected by states’ abuses.  

During this BrownBag session, Zoe Anderson and Natacha John will provide a review of the latest major human rights violations committed by these states but also introduce the scope of the planned NGO Justice Equation’s work. This is a call for action; if you, like us, feel that enough is enough, help us in what will no doubt be an uphill but worthy battle. All kinds of skills are needed, so much work is to be done.

Zoe Anderson holds and LLM in International Law. For the last four and a half years she has been working for UNHCR in Syria focusing on international human rights law, international criminal law and international humanitarian law. Prior to that she worked as a lawyer in Australia in the areas of refugee law, criminal law and indigenous rights law.

Natacha John holds an LLM in International Human Rights Law and has been called to practice at the Bar of England and Wales. She has recently arrived from Syria where she spent 3.5 years in Syria working for UNHCR. Previous experience includes work as a lawyer in the European Court of Human Rights and many years representing the most vulnerable refugees in the Tribunals of England and Wales.