The Right to Remedy
All victims of human rights violations have a right to an effective remedy. This right lies at the very core of international human rights law. It also stems from a general principle of international law that every breach gives rise to an obligation to provide a remedy. The right to an effective remedy has been recognized under various international and regional human rights treaties and instruments and also as a rule of customary international law.
The right to an effective remedy encompasses the victim’s right to:
- equal and effective access to justice;
- adequate, effective and prompt reparation for harm suffered; and
- access to relevant information concerning violations and reparation mechanisms.
Reparations – or measures to repair the harm caused to victims of human rights violations – can take many forms. The actual reparation that should be provided in each case will depend on the nature of the right violated, the harm suffered and the wishes of those affected. The touchstone of reparation, however, is that it must seek to remove the consequences of the violation and, as far as possible, restore those who have been affected to the situation they would have been in had the violation not occurred. Reparations can and should be used to redress underlying systemic problems, such as situations of structural disadvantage and marginalization
The right to remedy was first enshrined in Article 8 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in the following terms: Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.