Sixty years after the creation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, the US still protects more refugees than any other country. But the road to gaining asylum has become unnecessarily burdensome and prevents untold thousands of people from gaining asylum every year.
Due to the relatively closed nature of the system, there is very little publicly available data detailing the extent of sexual abuse in immigration detention centers. However, recently uncovered documents reveal nearly 200 official complaints of sexual abuse in detention facilities since 2007. This number is probably just the tip of the iceberg given that sexual abuse is one of the most underreported crimes in the US.
Federal Border Patrol agents aren’t the only people scouring the US-Mexico border in search of immigrants illegally crossing the border, joining their ranks are groups of armed private citizens. These citizens claim to support law enforcement by protecting America from the security threat of uncontrolled immigration. Groups such as the Minuteman Project, Ranch Rescue, and the American Border Patrol claim to “operate within the law,” yet they regularly violate both domestic and international law.
Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that corporate entities can be held accountable for human rights violations committed abroad. At the heart of the debate is the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA), a mechanism through which non-US citizens can bring lawsuits in US federal court for acts committed abroad that violate international law.
For his first official investigation as the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Juan Mendez chose to tackle the question of whether the use of solitary confinement amounts to torture.