Legal professionals play a crucial role in the fight against impunity and in enabling torture victims to gain access to justice. In order for a torture victim to get recognition in a court proceeding and to be awarded adequate reparation certain steps have to be followed, rules of procedures respected and particularities of torture cases taken into account.
There are different possibilities to initiate legal proceedings. There are considerable differences in the applicable rules of procedure and of evidence - including burden and standard of proof - depending on the type of claims brought forward, i.e., if it is an administrative, civil or criminal claim. In criminal cases, the state brings the suit, sometimes upon request of a plaintiff, and must show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, while in civil cases the plaintiff brings the suit directly and must only show the defendant is liable by a preponderance of evidence. The framework of the court cases furthermore depends on the specific legal system, i.e., common law or civil law or hybrid system, extracting the rules from a range of statutes and/or case law or cases before an international adjudicator like the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Keeping in mind the differences in various legal systems, the below considerations are meant to provide an overview of general procedural issues to be considered in legal investigations and evidence gathering.