Colorado Domestic Violence Survivor Seeks Justice in International Tribunal
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Hear Arguments Today on US Responsibility to Protect Domestic Violence Victims
WASHINGTON - In
the first international human rights petition brought against the U.S.
by a domestic violence survivor, the Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights (IACHR) will hear testimony today in the case of Jessica Lenahan
(formerly Gonzales), whose three daughters were kidnapped by her
estranged husband and killed. Lenahan's domestic violence protection
claims were rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lenahan filed a lawsuit against the
Colorado police in 1999 charging that law enforcement must be held
responsible for enforcing the restraining order against her estranged
husband. The case made its way to the Supreme Court, and in June 2005
the Court ruled that Lenahan had no constitutional right to police
enforcement of her restraining order. Because Lenahan had exhausted all
domestic legal avenues available to her, the American Civil Liberties
Union submitted a petition in 2005 on Lenahan's behalf to the IACHR, an
international human rights tribunal based in Washington, D.C.
Last year, the IACHR ruled that
Lenahan's case could go forward. The tribunal found that countries in
the Americas, including the U.S., are responsible under the American
Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man for protecting victims of
domestic violence and that the U.S. had closed all avenues Lenahan had
for legal recourse.
Lenahan, her lawyers and an expert
in police practices will speak during today's hearing. The legal team
will argue that the U.S. and the state of Colorado violated Lenahan's
and her children's human rights, specifically the rights to life,
non-discrimination, family life/unity, due process, and to petition the
government, as well as the rights of domestic violence victims and
their children to special protections.
Lenahan, her family, her attorneys
and attorneys who filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case will be
available to answer questions from the media after the hearing.
Jessica Lenahan and her family and attorneys from the ACLU Women's
Rights Project, ACLU Human Rights Program and Columbia Law School's
Human Rights Clinic
WHAT: Hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
WHEN: Today, October 22, 2008, 3:15 p.m. EDT
WHERE: Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
1889 F St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20006
The hearing today is open to the
public and broadcast both as a simulcast and as a webcast posted on the
Organization of American States website at: www.oas.org
More information, including the petition and all briefs in the case, are available online at: www.aclu.org/womensrights/