March 5, 2013
The International Women’s Human Rights (IWHR) Clinic calls on the United Nations Human Rights Committee to take up urgent human rights issues in the United States in its upcoming review of the U.S.
The IWHR Clinic, the Legal Aid Society’s Trafficking Victims Legal Defense and Advocacy Project, and The Sex Worker’s Project at the Urban Justice Center jointly submitted a letter urging the Human Rights Committee to hold the U.S. to account for treating survivors of sex trafficking as criminals, instead of victims of human rights abuses. The letter explains that individuals trafficked into prostitution are frequently arrested, detained and prosecuted, and then saddled with the stigma and collateral consequences of a criminal record, all for crimes that they are forced to commit, in violation of international human rights standards. The letter also highlights a new New York law that allows survivors of sex trafficking to vacate criminal convictions that were a result of the trafficking situation as an example of a remedy for redressing the harms of criminalization.
The IWHR Clinic, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, and the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth also submitted a joint letter to the Human Rights Committee drawing attention to the widespread practice of incarcerating youth in adult jails and prisons, as well as the practice of sentencing youth to life without parole—practices that violate the fundamental rights of these youth. The letter details the harmful conditions in the adult jails and prisons where these young people grow and mature into adulthood. The letter further highlights the devastating collateral consequences of these practices, including discrimination in housing, employment, and education, as well as increased recidivism, long-term consequences that affect both the incarcerated youth and their communities.
CUNY Law’s IWHR Clinic is widely recognized for its expertise and contributions to gender jurisprudence and practice of human rights. With domestic or international partners, the clinic engages international and regional human rights and other law- and policy-making institutions to redefine and implement human rights to stop gender and sexualized violence, and to advance reproductive and sexual rights, economic and social rights, and women’s participation generally.