A civil rights legal advocacy group, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, filed an unusual international petition Thursday accusing the United States of failing to adequately protect Latinos living within its borders, regardless of citizenship, reports the New York Times. The claim was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, an organ of the Organization of American States, of which the United States is a founding member. It charges that the United States is failing to live up to the group's declaration on human rights, the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
It cites violence against Latinos, including the murders over the past five months of three immigrants: José Sucuzhañay in Brooklyn last week, Marcelo Lucero in the Long Island town of Patchogue on Nov. 8, and Luis Ramirez in Shenandoah, Pa., on July 14. In all three cases, prosecutors say the assailants used anti-Latino slurs. Hate-crime attacks on Latinos rose 40 percent between 2003 and 2007, the petition says, citing the FBI. The United States has not recognized the commission's decisions as binding, but has sometimes responded to them in the diplomatic arena, lawyers at LatinoJustice say. In order for the petition to go forward, the commission must determine that the plaintiffs have exhausted all domestic legal remedies.