The hearing was requested by Amnesty International USA, the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute at Washington University School of Law, the Center for American Progress, and Instituto Igarape to examine how gun violence in the United States affects the Organization of American States member countries. The hearing is a follow-up to Amnesty International’s testimony before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Bogotá, Colombia in February 2018 laying out the ways in which the U.S. is failing to fulfill its human rights obligations to address gun violence.
“This hearing will bring much needed international attention to the urgent and escalating problem of gun violence in the United States, which has become so prevalent that it amounts to a human rights crisis,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager of the End Gun Violence campaign at Amnesty International USA. “The ability to go about one’s daily life in security and dignity, free from fear, is at the very cornerstone of human rights and it’s well past the time that the United States government reformed its laws and policies to enact gun control.”
The hearing will examine the impact on survivors of the U.S government’s failure to address gun violence, and the commission will hear testimony from individuals who have survived gun violence in the context of domestic violence, children involved in gun homicides, as well as individuals from disproportionately impacted communities of color and others across U.S. borders who are living with the life-long repercussions of the government’s inadequate regulation of firearms.
Background and context
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the hemisphere. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Commission is composed of an executive secretariat, staff, and seven independent Commissioners.
Last month, Amnesty International published a report revealing a justice system that has failed survivors of intimate partner violence in Louisiana. In July, Amnesty International published a report examining whether the U.S. has met its obligation under human rights law to provide effective remedies to survivors of gun violence. The report was a follow-up to “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the U.S. Gun Violence Crisis,” which examined how all aspects of life in the U.S. have been compromised in some way by the unfettered access to guns, with no attempts at meaningful national regulation.
In August, the IACHR issued a statement expressing concern over the mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH, citing their repeated calls for the U.S. to fulfill its obligation to adopt effective gun control legislation to prevent and substantially reduce gun-related violence.