Victims Of Human Rights Violations Denied Access To Justice In U.S., Says New ACLU Report

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666; media@aclu.org

Victims Of Human Rights Violations Denied Access To Justice In U.S., Says New ACLU Report

On International Human Rights Day, Report Calls For Reform

NEW YORK - Access
to justice for victims of civil and human rights violations has been
severely curbed over the last decade, according to a report released
today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report shows how
indigent defendants on death row, prisoners suffering abuses in prison,
immigrants in unfair removal proceedings, torture victims, domestic
violence survivors and victims of racial discrimination, among others,
are consistently denied access to the courts and effective remedies as a
result of recent laws and court decisions.

"Unfortunately, because of recent laws and court decisions, victims of
human rights violations here in the U.S. are continually denied their
day in court while those responsible for the abuses are protected," said
Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher with the ACLU and author of
the report. "Equal justice for all is a core American value and everyone
deserves access to the courts to right wrongs done against them. The
U.S. should amend restrictive laws and swiftly enact policies to restore
access to justice for the most vulnerable among us."

According to the report, "Slamming the Courthouse Doors," the
"[a]ctions of the executive, federal legislative, and judicial branches
of the United States have seriously restricted access to justice for
victims of civil liberties and human rights violations, and have limited
the availability of effective (or, in some cases, any) remedies for
these violations. Weakened judicial oversight and recent attempts to
limit access to justice…are denying victims of human rights violations
their day in court and protecting responsible officials and corporations
from litigation."

The report details the many ways in which victims of human rights abuses are denied access to justice, including:

  • individuals
    convicted of capital crimes who seek to present newly found evidence of
    their innocence or claims of serious constitutional violations being
    denied recourse in the courts because of federal legislation and recent
    court decisions;
  • victims of rape,
    assault, religious rights violations and other serious abuses in prison
    having their claims thrown out of court because of a restrictive federal
    law;
  • immigrants who
    may have legitimate claims to remain in the United States unknowingly
    waiving their opportunity to pursue these claims and being swiftly
    deported because of unfair procedures;
  • torture victims,
    including survivors of the CIA "extraordinary rendition" program, being
    denied their day in court because the government has misused the "state
    secrets" privilege to shield their torturers from liability;
  • victims of
    domestic violence being denied the opportunity to seek civil remedy
    under the Violence Against Women Act because of recent court decisions;
    and
  • victims of racial
    or national origin discrimination, including victims of racial
    profiling, being shut out of court because their claims must be
    accompanied by proof of intentional discrimination, not just the
    disparate impact – however egregious – of certain laws and policies.

The report
includes detailed recommendations and measures for the U.S. government
to take in order to live up to the promise of equal justice for all and
comply with international human rights obligations and commitments to
guarantee access to justice and effective remedies. An annex to the
report includes information on curtailing access to justice in over a
dozen states.

"Slamming the Courthouse Doors" is available online at: www.aclu.org/human-rights/slamming-courthouse-doors-denial-access-justice-and-remedy-america

Access
to justice for victims of civil and human rights violations has been
severely curbed over the last decade, according to a report released
today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report shows how
indigent defendants on death row, prisoners suffering abuses in prison,
immigrants in unfair removal proceedings, torture victims, domestic
violence survivors and victims of racial discrimination, among others,
are consistently denied access to the courts and effective remedies as a
result of recent laws and court decisions.

"Unfortunately, because of recent laws and court decisions, victims of
human rights violations here in the U.S. are continually denied their
day in court while those responsible for the abuses are protected," said
Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher with the ACLU and author of
the report. "Equal justice for all is a core American value and everyone
deserves access to the courts to right wrongs done against them. The
U.S. should amend restrictive laws and swiftly enact policies to restore
access to justice for the most vulnerable among us."

According to the report, "Slamming the Courthouse Doors," the
"[a]ctions of the executive, federal legislative, and judicial branches
of the United States have seriously restricted access to justice for
victims of civil liberties and human rights violations, and have limited
the availability of effective (or, in some cases, any) remedies for
these violations. Weakened judicial oversight and recent attempts to
limit access to justice…are denying victims of human rights violations
their day in court and protecting responsible officials and corporations
from litigation."

The report details the many ways in which victims of human rights abuses are denied access to justice, including:

  • individuals
    convicted of capital crimes who seek to present newly found evidence of
    their innocence or claims of serious constitutional violations being
    denied recourse in the courts because of federal legislation and recent
    court decisions;
  • victims of rape,
    assault, religious rights violations and other serious abuses in prison
    having their claims thrown out of court because of a restrictive federal
    law;
  • immigrants who
    may have legitimate claims to remain in the United States unknowingly
    waiving their opportunity to pursue these claims and being swiftly
    deported because of unfair procedures;
  • torture victims,
    including survivors of the CIA "extraordinary rendition" program, being
    denied their day in court because the government has misused the "state
    secrets" privilege to shield their torturers from liability;
  • victims of
    domestic violence being denied the opportunity to seek civil remedy
    under the Violence Against Women Act because of recent court decisions;
    and
  • victims of racial
    or national origin discrimination, including victims of racial
    profiling, being shut out of court because their claims must be
    accompanied by proof of intentional discrimination, not just the
    disparate impact

    Access
    to justice for victims of civil and human rights violations has been
    severely curbed over the last decade, according to a report released
    today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The report shows how
    indigent defendants on death row, prisoners suffering abuses in prison,
    immigrants in unfair removal proceedings, torture victims, domestic
    violence survivors and victims of racial discrimination, among others,
    are consistently denied access to the courts and effective remedies as a
    result of recent laws and court decisions.

    "Unfortunately, because of recent laws and court decisions, victims of
    human rights violations here in the U.S. are continually denied their
    day in court while those responsible for the abuses are protected," said
    Jennifer Turner, Human Rights Researcher with the ACLU and author of
    the report. "Equal justice for all is a core American value and everyone
    deserves access to the courts to right wrongs done against them. The
    U.S. should amend restrictive laws and swiftly enact policies to restore
    access to justice for the most vulnerable among us."

    According to the report, "Slamming the Courthouse Doors," the
    "[a]ctions of the executive, federal legislative, and judicial branches
    of the United States have seriously restricted access to justice for
    victims of civil liberties and human rights violations, and have limited
    the availability of effective (or, in some cases, any) remedies for
    these violations. Weakened judicial oversight and recent attempts to
    limit access to justice…are denying victims of human rights violations
    their day in court and protecting responsible officials and corporations
    from litigation."

    The report details the many ways in which victims of human rights abuses are denied access to justice, including:

  • individuals
    convicted of capital crimes who seek to present newly found evidence of
    their innocence or claims of serious constitutional violations being
    denied recourse in the courts because of federal legislation and recent
    court decisions;
  • victims of rape,
    assault, religious rights violations and other serious abuses in prison
    having their claims thrown out of court because of a restrictive federal
    law;
  • immigrants who
    may have legitimate claims to remain in the United States unknowingly
    waiving their opportunity to pursue these claims and being swiftly
    deported because of unfair procedures;
  • torture victims,
    including survivors of the CIA "extraordinary rendition" program, being
    denied their day in court because the government has misused the "state
    secrets" privilege to shield their torturers from liability;
  • victims of
    domestic violence being denied the opportunity to seek civil remedy
    under the Violence Against Women Act because of recent court decisions;
    and
  • victims of racial
    or national origin discrimination, including victims of racial
    profiling, being shut out of court because their claims must be
    accompanied by proof of intentional discrimination, not just the
    disparate impact – however egregious – of certain laws and policies.

The report
includes detailed recommendations and measures for the U.S. government
to take in order to live up to the promise of equal justice for all and
comply with international human rights obligations and commitments to
guarantee access to justice and effective remedies. An annex to the
report includes information on curtailing access to justice in over a
dozen states.

"Slamming the Courthouse Doors" is available online at: www.aclu.org/human-rights/slamming-courthouse-doors-denial-access-justice-and-remedy-america

  • – however egregious – of certain laws and policies.

The report
includes detailed recommendations and measures for the U.S. government
to take in order to live up to the promise of equal justice for all and
comply with international human rights obligations and commitments to
guarantee access to justice and effective remedies. An annex to the
report includes information on curtailing access to justice in over a
dozen states.

"Slamming the Courthouse Doors" is available online at: www.aclu.org/human-rights/slamming-courthouse-doors-denial-access-justice-and-remedy-america

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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