This module is a resource for lecturers

Exercises and case studies

This section contains suggestions for in-class or pre-class educational exercises, while a post-class assignment for assessing student understanding of the Module is suggested in a separate section.

The exercises in this section are most appropriate for classes of up to 50 students, where students can be easily organized into small groups in which they discuss cases or conduct activities before group representatives provide feedback to the entire class. Although it is possible to have the same small group structure in large classes comprising a few hundred students, it is more challenging and the lecturer might wish to adapt the facilitation techniques to ensure sufficient time for group discussions as well as providing feedback to the entire class. The easiest way to deal with the requirement for small group discussion in a large class is to ask students to discuss the issues with the four or five students sitting close to them. Given time limitations, not all groups will be able to provide feedback in each exercise. It is recommended that the lecturer makes random selections and tries to ensure that all groups get the opportunity to provide feedback at least once during the session. If time permits, the lecturer could facilitate a discussion in plenary after each group has provided feedback.

All exercises in this section are appropriate for both graduate and undergraduate students. However, as students' prior knowledge and exposure to these issues varies widely, decisions about appropriateness of exercises should be based on their educational and social context.

Exercise 1: National frameworks for supporting victims

This exercise could be undertaken in class if e.g. students had done some prior preparation such as independent research which could then be shared in small group settings; alternatively, this could be set as an out of class exercise including as an assessment.

  • What provision, if any, does your own country make for:
    • Victims of crime more generally
    • Victims of terrorism crimes specifically
    • Access to civil remedies.
  • How does your domestic legislative system define the term "victim", if at all? How does this vary from the definitions given in at the start of this Module?

Exercise 2: Reflective writing (see Teaching Guide)

Ask your students, whether individually or in small groups, to write a reflective piece, such as a poem or comment, on one or more of the themes discussed in this Module from the perspective of being a victim/survivor, whether directly or indirectly affected. Perhaps this is an exercise that they could start in class then continue to work on as independent study outside of the class. It would be good if some students were willing to share their reflective writing with others, e.g., orally in class, through social-media and so forth.

Case study 1: 'Victims' of terrorism

Typically an image of a victim of terrorism has been someone who has come under a physical attack, e.g., using explosives, which has resulted in their physical and/or psychological injury. Due to terrorist organizations such as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram, however, a broader understanding of 'victim' of terrorism is necessary.

ISIL against the Yazidis

In 2016, the International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic* reported on the commission of the crime of genocide and multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes by ISIL aimed at eliminating the Yazidis, illustrated by their attack in the Sinjar region in northwest Iraq in August 2014. This has included:

[K]illings; sexual slavery, enslavement, torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and forcible transfer causing serious bodily and mental harm; the infliction of conditions of life that bring about a slow death; the imposition of measures to prevent Yazidi children from being born, including forced conversion of adults, the separation of Yazidi men and women, and mental trauma; and the transfer of Yazidi children from their own families and placing them with ISIS fighters, thereby cutting them off from beliefs and practices of their own religious community, and erasing their identity as Yazidis. (para. 202).

* United Nations, Human Rights Council (2016). "They came to destroy": ISIS Crime Against the Yazidis. 15 June. A/HRC/32/CRP.2. Summary; Section D paras. 42-80.
** Watch: Bring Back our Girls, " Bring Back Our Girls" campaign following the abduction on 14 April 2014 of 230 school girls by Boko Haram in Nigeria (1 May 2014).

Case study 2: Broader impact of terrorism on victims

Discuss the findings of this 2016 United Nations Human Rights Council report, Negative effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms (2016)*, which captures some of the broader impact of terrorist activities beyond perhaps some of the more obvious issues, such as on the rights to work, to health, to education and to participate in cultural life. An abstract of key relevant parts of the report is reproduced here.

Impact on the right to work and the right to health

42. Acts of terrorism have had a significant impact on the enjoyment of the right to health for direct and indirect victims. Attacks by Boko Haram in September 2013 on 21 health districts in Cameroon, for example, lead to the shutdown of 47 health centres in Fotokol, Guzdal and Koza. These centres reportedly hosted internally displaced persons before they fled for fear of further attacks by Boko Haram. In addition, attacks on girls' education have a negative impact on the right to health for girls, their families and communities because girls who are prevented from accessing education are less exposed to basic information and less empowered to make decisions about health issues, including nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, hygiene and preventive health care. One contribution to the present report highlighted the long-term impairments that may result from acts of terrorism, such as loss of limbs or of the senses, causing the victims to live with incapacity and pain for their entire lives and to require someone to care for them and their family. Furthermore, public spending on counter-terrorism often focuses on investment in the military, on policing and on intelligence gathering and analysis, which may adversely affect financial allocations to basic social services, including the health sector.

43. Another contribution to the present report highlighted the impact of terrorist attacks - such as the bombing of an aeroplane over the Sinai Peninsula in October 2015 - on the tourism industry, with negative implications for employment, tourism facilities and the national economy. More broadly, terrorism may have both a direct impact on the tourism sector - through decreased tourist numbers, leading to decreased spending - and an indirect impact, owing to decreased employment and reduced flow-on effects to other industries, such as food services, cleaning and maintenance businesses. In the context of counter-terrorism measures, the right to work may also be negatively impacted by the freezing of assets or the inclusion of individuals on a sanctions list, which could prevent them from travelling freely and accepting offers of employment in another country.

Impact on the right to education and the right to participate in cultural life

44. The enjoyment of the right to education in Nigeria has been impacted significantly by internal displacement resulting from attacks by Boko Haram. Displaced children have been unable to access education, while those who have remained in their communities often receive poor quality education owing to insecurity, the lack of teachers - as many have fled - and the destruction of schools. Several cases of attacks against girls accessing education have highlighted the fragile nature of achievements in increasing the accessibility, availability, adaptability, acceptability and quality of education for all. These events include the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls by Boko Haram in northeast Nigeria; the killing of more than 100 children in an attack by the Taliban at an army school in Peshawar, Pakistan; the shooting of education activist, Malala Yousafzai, by members of the Taliban in Pakistan; the reported forced removal of girls from schools in Somalia to become "wives" of Al-Shabaab fighters; the abduction and rape of girls at a Christian school in India; as well as several incidents of poisoning and acid attacks against schoolgirls in Afghanistan. One contribution to the report noted that, in Afghanistan, the Taliban had closed or burned some 245 schools in two Afghan provinces in 2015 and that 25 schoolteachers and students had been killed by anti-government elements.

45. The negative impact of terrorism on cultural life is evident from the attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab, Al-Qaida, Ansar Eddine, ISIL and the Taliban against artists and citizens attending cultural events, cinemas, concerts or theatres. One contribution to the report noted that artists and citizens in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Somalia and Syrian Arab Republic have been particularly severely affected by attacks committed in the name of religion, while the attacks in Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany and Sweden have led to fear, self-censorship and financial loss for artists and cultural industries.

46. With regard to censorship by States, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights noted that, in some countries, artistic expressions criticizing the Government had been labelled as "terrorism". She expressed concern that many artists had been disproportionately sentenced under charges of criminal offences such as "terrorism", "extremism" or

47. At a more general level, the reallocation of State resources towards counter- terrorism measures can also have negative consequences on the right to education, for example, when allocations are drawn away from programmes in the education sector.

* United Nations, General Assembly, Human Rights Council (2016). Annual report of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General: Negative effects of terrorism on the enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms . 30 December. A/HRC/34/30. Pp. 12-13.
** See as well the key themes identified in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331 (2016) on trafficking in persons, including sexual slavery and exploitation, which are relevant to some terrorist activities, including those of ISIL and Boko Haram. Additionally, see the Madrid Declaration on Victims of Terrorism (2012), adopted by the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, which also looks at broader impact issues for victims of terrorism.

Case study 3: The right to an effective remedy within the African human rights system

Though the following case studies are concerned with the alleged violations of States rather than non-State actors, they demonstrate how legal principles regarding reparation are interpreted within the African human rights system.

Titanji Duga Ernest (on behalf of Cheonumu Martin and others) C. Cameroun Case*

In May 2004, Mr. Titanji Duga, a lawyer based in Yaoundé, lodged a complaint against the Republic of Cameroon with the Secretariat of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in the name of eighteen persons who were arrested in March 1997, in the northeastern province of the Republic of Cameroon.

The complaint alleged that after a long period of mental and physical torture "for the purposes of extortion of confessions" with respect to "secessionist activities", the accused persons were convicted and sentenced in October 1999 to imprisonment for periods between eight years and life imprisonment. Despite having lodged an immediate appeal against the conviction, no appeal proceedings had taken place. Concerned about the well-being of the detainees, the complainant brought this case on their behalf.

The African Commission "recognize[d] the inherent principle of the right to reparation for damages suffered as a result of a violation of the provisions of the African Charter. The Commission contend[ed] that the State of Cameroon [was] compelled to pay compensation for the prejudices suffered by the victims .… The Commission further recall[ed] that, in the light of its jurisprudence, assessment of the quantum of such compensation [was to] be left to the national courts or authorities of the respondent State". Such compensation was to comply with internationally accepted minimum standards, as well as abide by the principle of restitution (restitutio in integrum).

In cases where restitution is impossible, the respondent State may resort separately or cumulatively to compensation, rehabilitation and other forms of reparation. In case of disappearance or death, the compensation must alter to the benefit of the beneficiaries of the victim. It follows therefore that any compensation must be fair, adequate, effective, sufficient, appropriate, directed towards the victim and proportional to the damage suffered.

"As a result of the violations found and in compliance with the principles of equity and justice, the Republic of Cameroon [was] under the obligation to provide all victims or their dependents with an appropriate, just, fair and adequate compensation. The amount of the compensation [was to] be calculated taking into account the pretium doloris due to the acts of torture and inhuman treatment, the prejudice suffered by the fact of the detention, the duration of the procedure and the expenses."

Malawi African Association and others C. Mauritania Case**

This case brought together four separate communications for the African Commission to consider which raised similar issues, notably here regarding who had the necessary legal standing to bring a claim for a remedy before the Commission. On the facts of all four communications, they had been submitted by non-governmental organizations on behalf of victims.

The Commission considered the effect of article 56(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights which simply requires that "communications should indicate the names of those submitting and not those of all the victims of the alleged violations". It made the point that especially in situations where serious, mass violations had occurred, it would not always be possible for each of the victims to be named. It therefore confirmed that communications regarding the perpetration of human rights violations did not have to be submitted by the victims themselves or their families. (Paras. 78-79). Therefore, other individuals or NGOs may submit communications on behalf of victims.

Under the Charter's provisions, the "possibility granted to individuals and NGOs to submit cases to the [Commission] is not limited to a particular interest in bringing a case to [the Commission] such as being a direct victim of the human rights violation". (Para. 78). The underlying rationale of this approach is to reflect the very real obstacles often faced by victims in many African countries in alleging human rights violations, with the consequence that "national or international channels of remedy may not be accessible to the victims themselves or may be dangerous to pursue". (Para. 78). Therefore, if the requirement existed e.g. for each victim to be named, this could have the effect of denying them an effective remedy.

* ACommHPR. Titanji Duga Ernest (on behalf of Cheonumu Martin and others) C. Cameroun , Communication 287/04. 17 February 2015.
** ACommHPR. Malawi Africa Association, Amnesty International, Ms Sarr Diop, Union interafricaine des droits de l'Homme and RADDHO, Collectif des veuves et ayants Droit, Association mauritanienne des droits de l'Homme C. Mauritania, Communnication 54/91-61/91-96/93-98/93-164/97_196/97-210/98. 11 May 2000.
Next page
Back to top