Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Human Rights USA Releases Asylum Guide on International Women's Day

March 8th 2011 is International Women's Day, celebrating the achievements of women past, present and future. Here in the United States, March is National Women's History Month, an opportunity to honor the achievements of women who have grappled with challenges and overcome them, changing the world for the better in the process.

In commemoration of International Women's Day and National Women's History Month, Human Rights USA is proud to announce the release of our Guide to Establishing the Asylum Eligibility of Victims of Human Trafficking and Forced Marriage. This handbook is designed to assist attorneys in crafting arguments and writing briefs to support their clients' asylum applications based on trafficking and/or forced marriage.

Human trafficking - as well as forced marriage, often a form of trafficking - is indisputably recognized around the world as an egregious human rights abuse, and many victims fear that they cannot safely return to their home countries after escaping. Increasingly, courts around the world are concluding that victims of trafficking and forced marriage are eligible for refugee protection. While some U.S. immigration judges and asylum officers have also recognized this principle, there is not a large body of binding U.S. precedent specifically addressing trafficking or forced marriage. But with a targeted litigation strategy, attorneys can convince more adjudicators to recognize what is becoming firmly established in international law.

For the last five years, Human Rights USA, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit dedicated to closing the gaps between international human rights standards and U.S. laws, has successfully represented numerous refugee women fleeing these forms of abuse and assisted attorneys working on these types of cases. In doing so, we have developed strong arguments and litigation strategies to help convince judges and asylum officers that trafficking and forced marriage are forms of persecution and that people fleeing such situations may be eligible for asylum. Our guide breaks down each element of asylum eligibility to suggest ways to apply the law to victims of trafficking and forced marriage, offer examples of supportive case law and other authorities, and highlight helpful types of evidence and how to tie that evidence to the law to demonstrate a client's eligibility.

The guide is accompanied by two sample briefs, one oriented toward sex trafficking cases and another toward forced marriage cases. Used in conjunction with the guide, the sample briefs demonstrate how Human Rights USA's legal arguments and suggested authority can be incorporated into the legal strategy of an individual case.

While Human Rights USA's trafficking-related asylum cases have all involved women and girls fleeing sex trafficking or forced marriage, many of the arguments and authority contained in the guide and sample briefs could be applied to other types of trafficking cases, including labor trafficking and claims made by male asylum seekers.

For a copy of the guide, please find it on our website, or call (202) 296-5702.