2007 Archive

Human Rights Clinic Preps Activists for U.N. Hearing on Migrant Abuse

The International Human Rights Law Clinic (IHRLC) earlier this month offered strategic counsel to activists in California's Central Valley, which led to dramatic testimony about human rights abuses of migrant farm workers at a United Nations hearing.

Dr. Jorge Bustamante, the U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, held meetings in Los Angeles as part of a broader mission to investigate human rights conditions of migrants and immigrants across the U.S. He met with advocacy groups, community leaders, migrant laborers, and others.

IHRLC students Irene Gutierrez '07 and Harini Raghupathi '07 and IHRLC associate director Roxanna Altholz '99 persuaded Central Valley organizations to travel to Los Angeles and testify. The three met with community groups working closely with Boalt Hall's Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, including the California Rural Assistance Program.

At the hearing, testimony focused on shoddy subcontracting operations in the Central Valley, the inhumane working and living conditions for migrant workers, and the struggle of indigenous farm workers for language-access rights. Altholz says this work is "just the beginning of a larger legal project" to secure clean water rights for farm laborers in the region.

IHRLC's initiative to promote migrant rights in the Central Valley illustrates how U.S. advocacy groups can leverage international human rights standards and bring worldwide attention to the plight of marginalized communities in this country.