Category Archives: family

Ten Human Rights Standards Implicated by U.S. Immigration Policy Changes

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the San Ysidro crossing
Credit: Josh Denmark

Recent changes in the United States’ immigration policies have drawn fresh condemnation from human rights experts and civil society, particularly as news spread that authorities had separated approximately 2,000 children from their parents at the country’s southern border. [IACHR Press Release; OHCHR Press Release; UNHCR Press Release] These changes include automatic criminal prosecution and detention of adults – including asylum seekers – entering the United States without authorization, separation and detention of children who crossed the southern border outside a port of entry with their parents, and a directive instructing immigration officials not to recognize a State’s failure to protect victims of gang violence and domestic violence as grounds for asylum. In response to criticism earlier this month, President Trump signed an Executive Order on June 20, 2018 to detain children and parents together, but that also raised concerns because it did not address the reunification of separated families and proposed modifying time limits on detention of families. [OHCHR Press Release: UN Experts] The policy changes add to long-standing human rights concerns related to U.S. immigration policy. This post reviews 10 of the primary principles implicated. Read more

ECtHR: Holding Prisoners in Facilities Far from Family Violates Rights  

A prison in Russia
Credit: A. Savin via Wikimedia Commons

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a unanimous judgment on March 7 holding that imprisoning individuals thousands of miles away from their families violates their right to private and family life protected under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). See ECtHR, Polyakova and Others v. Russia, Nos. 35090/09, 35845/11, 45694/13, 59747/14, Judgment of 7 March 2017. In Polyakova and Others v. Russia, three prisoners were held between 2,000 and 8,000 kilometers from their family members, and the distance, the applicants showed, had a direct effect on how often the prisoners were able to visit with family. Russia’s domestic legal system, the ECtHR found, allows for vast discretion in choosing a prisoner’s location, and does not require consideration of the effect a penal facility’s geographical location may have on a prisoner’s family life when placing a detainee. See id. at paras. 98-101, 116-19. Domestic procedures do not adequately safeguard against abuse of discretion through effective judicial review or another mechanism, the Court found, and, therefore, Russia’s interference with the prisoners’ rights was not justified. See id. at para. 119. The Court in its opinion recognized that the margin of appreciation given to States on “permissible limits of the interference with private and family life” when regulating family visits in prisons “has been narrowing.” See id. at para. 89. A 2013 case against Russia also found that placement in remote prisons and a lack of efficient transportation to those prisons implicated the right to private and family life for prisoners. See ECtHR, Khoroshenko v. Russia [GC], no. 41418/04, Judgment of 30 June 2015. The current case expanded upon that opinion, stating placing prisoners 2,000 to 8,000 kilometers away from family members interfered with their rights.

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News Clips- March 3, 2017

United Nations Security Council votes on imposing sanctions against Syria
Credit: UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

Civil Society

  • On Wednesday, Russian security officials raided the home of well-known journalist and human rights defender Zoya Svetova. [Committee to Protect Journalists]
  • On Tuesday, hundreds protested the evacuation of settlers from homes in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, after courts found the homes were built on Palestinian land in violation of the law. [CNN]
  • Last Friday, United States President Trump blocked media organizations, including the New York Times, CNN, Politico, and Al Jazeera, from participating in a press briefing. [Al Jazeera]

Armed Conflict, Violence, & Humanitarian Crises

  • On Wednesday, a Russian airstrike accidentally targeted Syrian Arab fighters that were being trained by the United States. [New York Times]
  • On Wednesday, two attacks on security facilities in Afghanistan, for which the Taliban took credit, killed at least 16 people. [Washington Post]
  • On Monday, senior Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Salam Akhund was killed in a bombing raid led by the United States in northern Afghanistan. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Saturday, attacks in Hom, Syria linked to al-Qaeda killed 42 people. [Washington Post]

Activities of International Experts & Bodies

Migrants, Asylum Seekers, & Refugees

  • Over the last week and a half, at least 26,000 Iraqis have been displaced in response to security forces’ efforts to retake the city of Mosul from ISIL. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Sunday, an interior minister in Germany reported that there were 3,500 attacks against refugees, migrants, and their shelters within the country in the last year. [Al Jazeera]
  • On Friday, the International Organization for Migration reported that 366 migrants died at sea during attempted migration to Europe in the first months of 2017; this figure is down from 425 last year. [UN News Centre]

LGBTIQ Rights

  • On Tuesday, the Court of Appeals in Trento, Italy held that same-sex parents should have equal parental rights and that the names of both parents should appear on their child’s birth certificate. [Jurist]
  • This week, United States President Trump removed federal guidelines put in place during the Obama administration that had required access to sex-segregated facilities be based on gender identity. [Al Jazeera]

IACtHR Holds Bolivia Responsible for Forced Sterilization in Landmark Judgment

The Inter-American Court hears from the parties in I.V. v. Bolivia
Credit: IACtHR

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACtHR) examined for the first time the issue of informed consent to medical treatment and forced sterilization, in its judgment in I.V. v. Bolivia, released last week. [IACtHR Press Release (in Spanish)] The case involves a Peruvian refugee who was sterilized by a tubal ligation performed without her informed consent in a Bolivian public hospital in 2000, resulting in permanent loss of her ability to conceive a child. See I/A Court H.R., I.V. v. Bolivia. Preliminary Objections, Merits, Reparations and Costs. Judgment of 30 November 2016. Series C No. 329, paras. 64-65 (in Spanish). I.V. had been admitted to a public hospital to give birth and was sterilized, immediately after doctors performed a Caesarean section, purportedly to prevent potential complications if I.V. were to become pregnant again in the future. See id. at paras. 63-64.

The IACtHR’s judgment expands the Court’s jurisprudence on the principle of informed consent, the (infrequently cited) right to dignity under the American Convention on Human Rights, and a State’s obligation to ensure adequate training for medical professionals. The IACtHR affirmed that informed consent is an essential precondition to medical treatment that is based on respect for individuals’ autonomy, dignity, and freedom to make their own decisions. See id. at para. 159. The International Justice Resource Center (IJRC), together with the International Human Rights Clinic at Santa Clara University, submitted an amicus curiae brief to the Court which provided supplementary analysis on these concepts and the human rights implicated by forced sterilization of women, a practice that is regrettably common in the Americas and throughout the world. Read more

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