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“Above the Law”
Police Brutality and Human Rights
May 1 – 2, 2008
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Event Summary

The ACLU Human Rights Program and the ACLU of Puerto Rico are presenting a 2-day workshop for social justice advocates interested in developing human rights strategies to end police brutality and human rights violations. Through identifying shared advocacy goals, we will work to develop concrete strategies for using human rights mechanisms to expose and end police brutality, and to bring about justice for victims of human rights violations. The workshop will use a human rights lens to tackle a range of issues including the following:

  • The historic and contemporary structures and lack of systems of accountability that allow police brutality to occur;
  • Preventing, exposing, and remedying abuses through transparent monitoring mechanisms and strong oversight bodies accountable to communities most affected;
  • Identifying unique issues that face communities particularly vulnerable to police abuses, including people of African descent and other communities of color, working-class communities, women, the homeless and LGBT communities.

What training will the workshop provide?

  • An overview of universal human rights standards that protect the rights of individuals and communities against abusive police practices;
  • Identify shared advocacy goals and collaborate on solutions;
  • Develop ways to utilize and improve documentation efforts to expose police brutality;
  • Help develop concrete strategies for using human rights mechanisms to complement existing methods of advocacy to end police brutality in Puerto Rico and beyond.

Who should come?

This interactive training will be of use to all groups and individuals engaged in work on police brutality and abuse, including practicing lawyers, policy advocates, community organizers, and communications strategists. Though the workshop will tackle specific challenges in Puerto Rico, it will also be of benefit to advocates across the U.S. facing similar problems. The event is an opportunity for activists to learn about applicable human rights resources from experts in the field and to share experiences and strategies with other social justice advocates.

Why should I come?

For many communities, struggles against abusive practices by law enforcement have long been an established part of daily life. While recognizing the courageous resistance of countless advocates who have stood up against brutality and abuse, from the mothers of Anthony Baez and Amadou Diallo in New York City, to the family of Sean Bell, and victims of the attacks in Loiza, Puerto Rico, sadly, the brutality continues unabated and with little recourse or accountability. As the Rodney King and Diallo cases showed, even when brutality is exposed, victims rarely see justice. As many of the communities that consistently experience abuse by law enforcement are among the most marginalized and disfranchised in our society, abusive policing practices are even more likely to go unnoticed and unpunished. Universal human rights standards, which often provide more affirmative rights and protections than U.S. statutory or constitutional law, can be used to complement existing advocacy against police abuse, as well as to develop new strategies for police brutality monitoring, documentation, litigation, public education and policy advocacy. Human rights are providing fuel for new grassroots movements because they encompass disparate issues—such as economic and social rights and intersectional forms of discrimination—not adequately addressed in domestic law or mainstream advocacy. During this workshop, you will learn how to actively engage human rights principles to protect the rights of communities against police abuse, document and expose incidents of brutality and other rights violations, and help survivors and victims of abuse and brutality at the hands of law enforcement find justice.

What are the conference fees? How do I register?

The conference is free but space will be limited. Travel and accommodation scholarships will be available and will be awarded based on demonstrated need. Information on registration will be sent shortly. In the meantime, mark your calendars! Download flyer >>>

Questions? Please contact:
Ashwini Hardikar
Advocacy Associate
Human Rights Program
American Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004
Tel: (212) 549-2663

For questions about the program, please contact:
Chandra Bhatnagar
Staff Attorney
Human Rights Program
American Civil Liberties Union,
125 Broad Street, New York, NY 10004
Tel (212) 519-7840

Past Events:

CONFERENCE: WORKSHOP ON THE FEDERAL LAW "VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT." On January 19, 22-23, 2008 in San Juan and Mayagüez, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be giving several workshops on the federal law "Violence Against Women Act" (VAWA) with a focus on dwelling and immigration. Download PDF for more information (in Spanish) >>

3rd Annual ACLU-PR Conference “Violencia Contra Las Mujeres en Puerto Rico” -- ASUNTO DE TODOS, March 28th to 31st, 2007. Download the flyer for more information >>>

2006 Second Annual ACLU Puerto Rico Civil Liberties Congress, "Racism and Civil Liberties in Puerto Rico." Read more (PDF) >>>


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