Advocates and activists working in the field are experts in the day-to-day practices that affect the human rights of their constituencies. They know when their clients or communities are not being treated with dignity. They know when the laws on the books are not being implemented fairly. They know when the problems are persisting, despite assuances from those in charge that they have been fixed.
Many of these systemic injustices easily can be framed as human rights violations.
Framing the Issues: Immigrant Detention in the US
Challenge: Over 100 people have died in US custody while detained on immigration violations. The government claims there are no binding standards for immigrant detention centers, legal challenges to detention conditions have been difficult to win in US courts, and the US continues to expand its reliance on detention of immigrants to enforce immigration laws. The issue of immigration in the US is extremely divisive politically.
Opportunity: In 2007 UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante visited the US. His report on human rights violations in the immigrant detention system drew media attention to the problem. In the following years many human rights groups issued reports on human rights violations in immigrant detention centers. In 2009, the Detention Watch Network launched its first national campaign, Dignity Not Detention, using a human rights framework to call for the end to unjust immigrant detention. The campaign is framed as a call for freedom from arbitrary detention and detention in inhumane conditions.
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