Rights groups join LatinoJustice PRLDEF in Human Rights petition against the United States

March 5, 2009
Contact: John Garcia (212) 739-7513 jgarcia@latinojustice.org

An unprecedented number of civil and human rights groups have joined LatinoJustice PRLDEF in condemning the United States for violating the human rights of Latinos.

Seventeen national and local organizations from across the country recently signed on as co-petitioners in LatinoJustice PRLDEF’s petition to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, denouncing the United States’ failure to protect Latinos living within its borders.

The petition, submitted on Dec. 19, 2008, argues that the United States’ explicitly and implicitly encourages the degradation of the rights of its Latino residents by creating an environment where violations of the human rights of Latinos by private actors go on unimpeded. Latinos have been targeted, attacked, brutalized and murdered because of their race and ethnicity in incidents with rising frequency and severity throughout the United States.

This week LatinoJustice PRLDEF responded to Commission Secretary Santiago Canton’s request for additional supporting information by sending the names of our co-petitioners, along with further evidence documenting incidents of violence and harassment against Latinos.

The evidence shows how the U.S. government has created an atmosphere in which many private citizens do not believe Latinos are entitled to fair and equal treatment.

“When the government doesn’t protect its Latino residents, groups like ours are called upon to respond to violent hate incidents with ever more frequency,” said LatinoJustice PRLDEF legal fellow Christina Iturralde. “We were pleased that so many groups saw this as a common fight and chose to sign on.”

The United States has an obligation to ensure the safety of all those who reside within its borders under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, adopted 60 years ago by the members of the Organization of American States, of which the U.S. is a founding member. Specifically, the Declaration’s Article 1 states that “everyone has a right to life, liberty and security of person.”

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States. The commission, based in Washington, D.C., was established to hear petitions against member states for violations of the American Declaration of Human Rights. The IACHR represents all of the member States of the Organization of American States, and has seven members who act independently, without representing any particular country. Any non-governmental organization legally recognized in a member state may file a petition with the commission.

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