Sunday, January 2, 2011
Important Alternative Resources For Victims
Recently, my friend Michelle sent me this copy of an article from the Harvard Human Rights Journal. Written by the lead counsel, Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, the article describes a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights filed on behalf of Jessica Gonzales against the United States Government.
Ms. Gonzales is a U.S. citizen whose three daughters were abducted by her estranged husband in June 1999. Despite having a restraining order against her husband because of previous incidents of domestic violence, local law enforcement officers ignored Ms. Gonzales' repeated calls for help. As a result, the Gonzales' girls were brutally murdered by their father.
Ms. Gonzales filed a lawsuit against the local police department in federal court, but her case was dismissed before discovery even began. The case went on to the Supreme Court, which decided that enforcement of protective orders was not manditory.
The Supreme Court's ruling shocked and outraged victims' rights and other groups across the country. Normally, Ms. Gonzales' case would have ended there, but she and her supporters decided to try an obscure legal remedy. They filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) claiming that the U.S. was responsible for human rights violations. Although the Commission has no enforcement authority, because it is an arm of the Organization of American States, its decisions "...carry significant moral and political weight and contribute to international standard setting" (p. 185).
Upon examination of Ms. Gonzales' petition by the Commission, it was upheld. This was the first time a domestic violence survivor had filed a case against the U.S. in an international court. The Gonzales case exposed serious human rights violations committed by a U.S. Government used to accusing other countries. For the first time, the U.S. was held accountable for its own actions at the international level and was shown to not be in compliance with international human rights standards.
At the same time, Ms. Gonzales also pursued other international avenues for relief. Although none of them offer any enforceable remedies, all of these have provided forums for exposing the violations of human rights involved and put pressure on the U.S. Government to fix their problems or risk being labeled a Third World country with regard to their stance on human rights.
As a result of the Gonzales case, various other victims and victims' rights groups have also filed petitions against the U.S. Government with the Commission. These petitions are designed to add to the pressure on the government to clean up its act with regard to human rights violations.
Victims of domestic abuse, organized crime, organized/gang stalking, police corruption, hate, and other crimes who are unable to obtain the justice or relief they are entitled to through normal means within the U.S. Government need to be aware that these international options are open to them. At the end of the article, I'm also posting contact and other basic information for victims from the IACHR's website, where additional information is available. Victims from countries other than the U.S. should check to see if they are also eligible to petition the IACHR. (For example, Canadian citizens also have this potential remedy.) Citizens of other countries should look into some of the other international possibilities mentioned in the article as well.
Unfortunately, for many of the most serious U.S. victims of human rights violations like myself and my children, these international remedies are not currently accessible due to the fact that some of the human rights violations being committed against us involve extensive conspiracies to deny us any sort of proper legal representation. We and many others are being victimized by persons with essentially unlimited legal and financial resources and contacts and associates at the highest levels of the U.S. Government. Until ALL American victims are able to obtain the legal help they desperately need, human rights violations in the U.S. are likely to continue and, sadly, expand.