Human Rights Watch's reporting on human rights violations in the Untied States took new directions in 1992. Americas Watch released a major report documenting U.S. human rights abuses along the U.S.-Mexico border. Americas Watch and the Fund for Free Expression investigated restrictions on freedom of expression in Miami's Cuban exile community. The Fund for Free Expression addressed the potential threats to freedom of speech posed by the movement for "English-language only" laws in the United States. The Fund and other divisions of Human Rights Watch also protested the U.S. government's attempt to deport two permanent residents for their lawful political activities. These and other Fund activities are described in the separate chapter on the Fund.
Human Rights Watch and its Prison Project continued to monitor human rights abuses in U.S. detention facilities. Human Rights Watch also issued a protest to the acquittal of police officers who beat motorist Rodney King in 1991. Human Rights Watch welcomed U.S. ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, but was opposed the Bush administration's inclusion of reservations to important rights and enforcement mechanisms.
In May 1992, Americas Watch released Brutality Unchecked: Human Rights Abuses Along the U.S. Border With Mexico, an 80-page report on human rights abuses committed by the U.S. Border Patrol of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (ins). The report found that abuse by ins agents is similar in kind and severity to abuses that Human Rights Watch has documented in other countries with serious human rights violations, including unjustified killing, torture, and rape, and routine beatings, rough physical treatment, and racially motivated verbal abuse. The response of the U.S. government to criticism of these abuses has been as defensive and unyielding as the responses of many other abusive governments.
One reason ins misconduct is so pervasive is that the ins does not adequately train or supervise its agents. Furthermore, the ins and the Justice Department are willing to cover up or defend even the most egregious conduct of agents. Investigations of ins abuses are almost invariably perfunctory, and the government is unwilling to prosecute or punish agents even when criminal or civil sanctions are clearly warranted. The ins covers up misconduct through a variety of failures and affirmative measures, including an ineffective complaint process that cannot identify or remedy abuses; refusal to divulge the names of agents involved in shootings and other serious incidents, making it difficult for victims to identify their abusers in the formal complaint process; failure to remove from active duty officers who have been implicated in shootings and other violations; and filing retaliatory criminal charges, of a sort usually reserved for flagrant violators of immigration laws or those suspected of serious crimes, against individuals who are victims of ins abuse, in order to intimidate them into silence.
Serious human rights abuses-particularly unjustified shootings and other excessive uses of force-occur when the Border Patrolapprehends undocumented migrants. The ins shooting policy permits an agent to shoot only in self-defense, in defense of another officer, or in defense of an innocent third party, and alerts agents that they may face criminal sanctions for violating the guidelines. In practice, however, agents violate the guidelines with impunity. For example:
· On September 8, 1990, an out-of-uniform Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 17-year-old attempting to cross the border. The autopsy report indicated that the victim was shot point blank; witnesses to the shooting testified that the agent knocked the victim down and shot him twice in the stomach. The agent claimed that the youth had thrown a rock and hit him. The Border Patrol did not identify the officer involved, but publicly released his version of events, which contradicted the medical evidence and witness statements. The agent was returned to normal duty the following day. No charges were ever filed against him.
· On November 18, 1990, a Border Patrol agent shot a 15-year-old who was straddling the fence along the border near Calexico, California, causing severe internal injury. The Calexico chief of police who investigated the case concluded that the shooting was unjustified, but no criminal charges have been filed.
· On May 25, 1990, a Border Patrol agent injured two people when he shot into a van. The local police investigator found that the shooting was unjustified. The Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the shooting and forwarded its conclusions to the Justice Department, which returned the case to the ins. No local or federal charges were ever filed. The ins subsequently acknowledged that the agent had violated the shooting guidelines, and the agent was suspended without pay for 30 days.
· In June 1992, after Brutality Unchecked was released, a Border Patrol agent patrolling near Nogales, Arizona, shot a man twice in the back. Although five agents were on the scene, the shooting was not reported for more than 15 hours and medical help was not secured for the injured man, who died of his wounds.
Not all deaths at the hands of the Border Patrol involve firearms. In February 1988, a 17-year-old died from a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage that he sustained when a Border agent threw him to the pavement. The agent was conducting a neighborhood sweep in Madera, California, and had stopped the victim to check his immigration status. The agent responsible for the death had a history of violent encounters: twice, the vehicle he was driving struck pedestrians, resulting in the death of a Mexican migrant, and in a separate incident, he was the subject of a civil suit for assaulting two farm workers. Although the FBI, local law enforcement officials, and the Justice Department investigated the death in Madera, the agent was never indicted; instead, he was transferred to Florida, promoted to Senior Border Patrol Agent, and assigned to numerous supervisory and training positions along the border.
Border guards and ins agents engage in other non-lethal forms of physical abuse as well, including beatings and rough physical treatment. Americas Watch has investigated a 1991 case of two Guatemalan men who were tortured while in custody of Border Patrol agents. Human rights groups monitoring the border unhesitatingly state that sexual abuse is rampant. In a handful of cases, ins agents have been prosecuted for raping undocumented migrant women, although far more often, rape goes unreported. Since most arrests take place in remote border regions at night, the only witnesses to these crimes are often undocumented migrants. Agents have taken advantage of these witnesses' lack of legal status in the U.S. to silence them, threatening retaliation through the legal system if they complain.
Injuries and deaths have also occurred as a result of the Border Patrol's dangerous use of vehicles to chase and intimidate border crossers. At least six migrants were run over and killed between 1985 and 1989. Just after the publication of Brutality Unchecked, six people died as a result of a controversial car chase in Temecula, California, in which Border Patrol agents pursued a vehicle believed to be carrying undocumented migrants.
Many human rights abuses against migrants occur in detention. During the 1980s, the ins steadily increased the number of people detained pending adjudication of their immigration or asylum claims. Many of those detained pose no risk to the safety or property of others and are not flight risks. Some are released on parole, although this is decided on a case-by-case basis and appears to be arbitrary, and others are sometimes released upon payment of a bond. However, there are drastic differences across the country in the amount of bond required; in some regions, notably El Paso and Laredo, bond amounts are set so high as to preclude release.
The physical conditions of detention facilities have not improved to meet the needs of these increasing numbers of detainees. Most facilities were not designed for long-term detention, but detainees are now being held for months and sometimes years. Many of the detention facilities are located in deserts, yet detainees during the day are confined outdoors without protection from the sun. Overcrowding also makes adequate indoor living space a serious problem. Detention conditions are even worse at the ins holding cells or staging facilities. These were intended to be holding areas where detainees await transfer to detention centers, but some detainees are kept for days with inadequate access to food and telephones.
The ins also detains adults in county and city jails, where conditions vary widely. Since the ins does not always make special provision for treatment of detainees, and smaller jails do not have facilities to segregate inmates, detainees in immigration proceedings are often held with prisoners who are accused or convicted of violent crimes. Physical conditions at some of these jails are harsher than at the ins's own detention centers: detainees at some jails are kept in small cells and denied exercise, recreation, telephones to contact lawyers, or access to immigration information and other written material.
Physical abuse of detainees is a serious problem in a numberof facilities. Most cases involve excesses apparently meant as discipline, punishment or warnings to detainees. Excessive force has also been used to prevent or suppress detainee protests about detention conditions. Two monitoring groups in California documented over a dozen cases of adults who say they were beaten in 1990 in the El Centro Service Processing Center, an ins-run detention center in California. In practically every case, a detainee was singled out, locked in a shower room, and beaten, because a detention officer disliked his or her "attitude." In March 1990, the ins dispatched a large team of officers in riot gear allegedly to prevent a protest over conditions at the Port Isabel Service Processing Center in Texas. Several detainees reported being hit, kicked, and thrown to the floor. Although detainees complained to the ins about several of these incidents, the ins is not known to have investigated.
The ins practice of detaining minors subjects many undocumented youths to human rights abuse. Federal standards applicable to minors in the juvenile justice system presume that detention is adverse to a child's interest, and require pretrial release to a suitable adult. They distinguish between delinquent and non-delinquent children, and require that the latter not be placed in secure facilities. In practice, however, the ins continues to detain children in juvenile justice facilities that are not licensed for shelter care and that house immigration detainees with youths accused of crimes. The ins also fails to ensure that all minors in detention understand and can exercise their rights, unnecessarily prevents release from detention through restrictive bond provisions, and confines minors under substandard conditions with inadequate care.
To end human rights violations by the Border Patrol and the ins, Americas Watch offered a series of recommendations. Central among them was the creation of an independent Board of Review to examine allegations of abuse and to make appropriate recommendations for prosecution or discipline. Americas Watch also called for the establishment of meaningful confidential procedures for registering complaints. Other recommendations addressed the use of force and firearms, conditions in ins detention facilities, and the treatment of minors. The report concluded that the ins needs to emphasize the protection of human rights in enforcing immigration laws, and make clear that all ins agents must respect the legal rights of all people.
Freedom of Expression in Miami's Cuban Exile Community
Miami's Cuban exile community, long dominated by forces fiercely opposed to the government of Fidel Castro in Cuba and to any dialogue with it, has been the site of serious restrictions on freedom of expression for those who dissent from a rigid anti-Castro stance. In August 1992, Americas Watch and the Fund for Free Expression issued Dangerous Dialogue: Attacks on Freedom of Expression in Miami's Cuban Exile Community, a report which documented numerous incidents of harassment and violent intimidation of moderate voices within the community. The report generated attention and controversy, including threatened legal action from Miami's Mayor Xavier Suárez if parts of the report werenot retracted. Americas Watch and the Fund for Free Expression responded by verifying the accuracy of every disputed claim.
Suppression of dissent in Miami takes a variety of forms, including attacks on artistic freedom, academic freedom, the press, and human rights activists. Some exile organizations, and an influential group of Spanish-language radio talk shows, play an important role in creating a repressive political climate by denouncing dissenters as "pro-Castro" or "Communists." Although many of the parties responsible for violence are private actors, Dangerous Dialogue found government complicity, ranging from direct harassment of dissident speech to a pattern of inaction in the face of political violence. Some incidents described in the report include:
· Miami's Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture has been the target of sustained violence because it shows works by artists in Cuba or artists who have not denounced the Castro government. In 1988, a bomb left under a museum board member's car exploded and destroyed the museum's front door, and museum officials later received personal death threats. Although police investigated five such threats against the museum's director, no criminal charges have been filed. In 1990, another bomb exploded outside the museum. The FBI found that the bombing suspects had deliberately targeted institutions that advocated dialogue with Cuba.
· Academics who advocate alternative approaches to Cuba have been attacked for expressing these views. The director of the Institute for Cuban Studies at Miami-Dade University, who came to Miami from Cuba in 1960, has sponsored numerous conferences discussing exchanges with Cuba and evaluating U.S. foreign policy. In 1988, she was a target of numerous verbal attacks over the radio, and on the eve of a conference she organized featuring prominent moderates, a sophisticated bomb was exploded in her garage.
· Radio Progreso, a Spanish-language station whose leading figure, Francisco Aruca, is a prominent advocate of closer ties with Cuba, has been a particular target of attack. In February 1992, three men broke into the station's studios, beat and tied up an employee, and damaged equipment. In 1989, two bombs exploded in the offices of Aruca's tourism company. Nobody was charged in these incidents. Another Radio Progreso talk-show host who came to Miami after 19 years as a political prisoner in Cuba was assaulted and beaten by demonstrators after one of his broadcasts in February. Vandals have broken into his office twice, destroyed his files, and scrawled "Communists are not allowed to have a business" across a wall. No arrests have been made in any of these incidents.
· The Cuban American National Foundation (canf), the dominant exile group in Miami, began a boycott campaign in early 1992 against the Miami Herald and its Spanish language version El Nuevo Herald to protest Herald editorials about relations with Cuba. The campaign involved bitter accusations that the paper was "communist" and "pro-Castro." In the ensuing controversy, the Herald's offices received bomb threats, its distribution boxes were vandalized, andits publisher received personal death threats. The canf eventually called off the campaign.
Although many of these incidents involved private actors, federal, state and local government authorities have played a significant role in creating the climate of intimidation. This role has taken three forms: direct harassment by the government itself, government funding of groups that seek to deny freedom of expression to others, and official statements encouraging private actors.
Local and federal government officials have participated directly in harassing persons who are not part of the fiercely anti-Castro camp, by denying permits arbitrarily, launching groundless investigations, and cutting off funding for dissident artists. The Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture has been a target of sustained government harassment since 1988, when a controversy erupted over reports that the museum had auctioned works by artists in Cuba or who had once supported Castro. Within two months, the Florida House of Representatives voted to cancel a $150,000 grant to the museum. The Miami City Commission then began a campaign to evict the museum from the city-owned property it leased for many years. In May 1991, a federal judge blocked the proposed eviction, finding that the Miami City Commission had engaged in improper conduct toward the museum.
Another example of government harassment of dissidents is the federal government's series of unwarranted investigations of Ramón Cernuda, a Miami business executive and former vice president of the Cuban Museum. Cernuda, who is perhaps the best known advocate of an alternative approach to Cuba, represents in exile a Havana-based human rights group that champions the cause of Cuban dissidents who are denounced by right-wing exile groups for their commitment to nonviolent change in Cuba. On May 5, 1989, during the Cuban Museum controversy, 14 U.S. Treasury agents raided Cernuda's home and office and confiscated 220 works of Cuban art. Several newspapers denounced the raid as a purely political act linked not to law enforcement but to the controversy over the Cuban Museum. In September 1989, a federal judge ordered Cernuda's paintings returned, and criticized the prosecutor for commencing the suit.
After this ruling, Cernuda was the target of a series of other investigations by government agencies. In November 1989, the immigration authorities seized and kept his travel documents for two months when he returned home from a conference in Canada. In December 1989, immigration officials raided his publishing offices in an unsuccessful search for illegal workers. In February 1990, the Florida Labor department began an investigation for possible labor violations. Shortly afterward, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service commenced an audit that took a year and resulted in a request that he claim his art collection as a personal rather than a business expense. None of the other investigations ever resulted in a charge or disciplinary action.
Government authorities bear some responsibility for the actions of groups that receive government funds and engage in repressive activities. For example, the Miami City Commission provided a $15,000 grant to the 1989 Cuban-American Festival, whichbanned three singers from performing because they had performed in Cuba.
Finally, there have been government statements and actions that encourage and embolden those private actors who may be inclined toward criminal violence. During the canf campaign against the Herald, Mayor Suárez joined with the canf to form the Cuban Anti-Defamation League and, on behalf of the group, publicly complained about the Herald. In another incident reported in 1986, a group protesting U.S. aid to the Nicaraguan contra movement was physically attacked by a fiercely anti-Castro exile group that held a counterdemonstration a few yards away. When some of the victims met with Mayor Suárez later to complain about the police's handling of the demonstration, he reportedly pointed out that most of them did not live in Miami and questioned why the city should pay to protect them. The Mayor's actions, along with the Miami City Commission's handling of permits for demonstrations and rallies and its treatment of the Cuban Museum, contribute to the impression that the Miami government is not ardently interested in preventing harassment of dissidents.
The official response to the violence and intimidation in Miami has been marked by a notable failure to prosecute criminal acts directed against dissidents. While in the last few years there have been over a dozen bombings aimed at those who favor a moderate approach to the Cuban government, there has not been a single arrest or prosecution in that time. Moreover, the authorities responsible for enforcing the laws more often appear to be concerned with discrediting activists than with apprehending those responsible. In some cases, police officers reportedly looked on and did nothing as violence or vandalism was taking place.
Americas Watch and the Fund for Free Expression concluded that governmental leadership could greatly improve the climate for freedom of expression in Miami, and made several recommendations. Law enforcement authorities should assure that a full and complete investigation is carried out with respect to every criminal act of violence, intimidation and vandalism, and that those responsible are brought to justice. Government leaders at every level, from the President to Mayor Suárez, should speak out clearly and forcefully against acts of violence and intimidation. Furthermore, the City of Miami should cease its efforts to harass the Cuban Museum of Arts and Culture, and should make decisions about funding, demonstration permits and police protection free of content-based ideological considerations.
In April 1992, a jury in Simi Valley, California acquitted four Los Angeles police officers responsible for the brutal beating of motorist Rodney King. The beating, 14 months earlier, had been captured on videotape by a bystander. In response to the verdict, Human Rights Watch stressed that the Rodney King beating was not an isolated occurrence but part of a recurrent, widespread pattern of police brutality in the United States. Human Rights Watch also emphasized that because police brutality violates the U.S. Constitution as well as international law, the duty to remedy and prevent it lies not only with the state but also with the federalgovernment.
Standards of police use of force remain vague and inconsistent across the country. As Human Rights Watch reported in its July 1991 study, Police Brutality in the United States: A Policy Statement on the Need for Federal Oversight, responsibility for the confusion lies with the federal government, which has failed to establish standards to prevent the use of excessive force, or even to keep statistics on the prevalence of abuse. A week after the police beat Rodney King, then-Attorney General Dick Thornburgh asked the National Institute of Justice to study the relationship between incidents of police brutality and departmental training programs and procedures to deter brutality. Predictably, the consultants assigned to the research were stymied by the lack of national records on the use of force by police. Nor were there any records correlating the use of force by police with different police training programs or procedures.
This deliberate policy of ignorance on the part of the federal government persists in a time when the federal government allocates hundreds of millions of dollars annually to assist local law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties. Federal programs instruct local police officers to combat crimes such as money laundering and drug trafficking. Yet, because federal officials consider police brutality a local problem, they provide no comparable instruction. Human Rights Watch maintains that the U.S. constitution and international human rights law compel the federal government to set minimum standards for police behavior, to keep records on adherence to those standards, and to provide guidance on compliance.
The Prison Project of Human Rights Watch continued its appeal to the U.S. government to safeguard human rights in U.S. prisons. Following up its 1991 study of prison conditions in the United States, Human Rights Watch met with congressional staff members and wrote to Attorney General William Barr expressing concern about the increasing use of super maximum security prisons in federal and state prisons, and accompanying human rights violations. In a reply letter, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, J. Michael Quinlan, did not address violations in state facilities, and noted, among other things, that inmates at the Marion, Illinois super maximum security facility stay "only about three years".
In October, the Prison Project also expressed concern about the treatment of a federal inmate, Brett Kimberlin, who made allegations in 1988 of having sold marijuana to then vice-presidential candidate Dan Quayle. Human Rights Watch requested information from Attorney General Barr about the Bureau's reasons for placing Kimberlin in administrative detention after he made the allegation, denying him access to the press, and cancelling his press conference on the issue.
Human Rights Watch has also been engaged in a study of the participation of medical personnel in executions, and expects to release a report in early 1993.
Ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and PoliticalRights
The U.S. Senate consented to the ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on April 2, 1992. On June 8, the executive branch formally deposited the instrument of ratification with the United Nations, finally bringing the United States into the growing community of states that have formally adopted the Covenant. The treaty had been submitted to the Senate in 1977 by President Carter. In August 1991, President Bush sent Congress a formal statement in favor of ratification, along with numerous proposed reservations, understandings and declarations that limited the Covenant's applicability in the United States.
Although Human Rights Watch supported ratification of the treaty, we objected to many of the limiting provisions proposed by the administration and adopted by the Senate. For example, the Bush administration objected to the Covenant's prohibition on the imposition of the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under the age of 18, and reserved the right to impose capital punishment for juvenile offenders.
Human Rights Watch also objected to the Bush administration's position that the provisions of the Covenant were not self-executing, and thus not enforceable in U.S. courts in the absence of implementing legislation. This declaration deprives U.S. courts of their role in enforcing treaty compliance, and denies U.S. citizens judicial protection of their rights under the Covenant. The administration defended its position on the grounds that since existing U.S. law generally complied with the Covenant, no implementing legislation was necessary.
Human Rights Watch supported one of the reservations to the Covenant that binds the U.S. to a higher standard of freedom of speech than was guaranteed by the language of the Covenant.
Litigation in U.S. Courts
In recent years Human Rights Watch has become increasingly involved in civil litigation in U.S. courts in cases in which international law standards are relevant.
· Hudson v. McMillian. On February 25, 1992, the Supreme Court reversed a lower court, and held that a beating of a prisoner constituted cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. constitution. Prison guards in a Louisiana prison had handcuffed, shackled, and beaten an inmate, loosening his teeth and cracking his dental plate. The court of appeals found that the beating did not violate the constitution because no "significant injury" resulted. In a 1991 amicus curiae brief, Human Rights Watch helped refute this claim by describing various abuses that often leave no physical injury but clearly constitute torture. In a concurring opinion, Justice Blackmun noted: "[W]ere we to hold to the contrary, we might place various kinds of state-sponsored torture and abuse-the kind ingeniously designed to cause pain but without a telltale `significant injury'-entirely beyond the pale of the Constitution."
· United States v. Alvarez Machain. In another case, also involving allegations of torture, the Supreme Court dealt a blow tointernational law by upholding the U.S. government's right to kidnap foreigners and bring them to the United States for trial. U.S. agents kidnapped Humberto Alvarez Machain, a Mexican national, and brought him to the United States. He alleges that he was tortured en route. The Mexican government protested the abduction and formally demanded his return. Americas Watch had filed an amicus curiae brief that called for Alvarez Machain's repatriation on the grounds that the extradition treaty between the United States and Mexico should be interpreted to prohibit unauthorized cross-border abductions and that the kidnapping interfered with Mexico's sovereign duty to protect the human rights of one of its citizens. The Court stated, "Respondent [Alvarez Machain] and his amici may be correct that Respondent's abduction was `shocking'...and that it may be in violation of general international law principles....We conclude, however, that Respondent's abduction was not in violation of the Extradition Treaty between the United States and Mexico."
· Nelson v. Saudi Arabia. Human Rights Watch also submitted an amicus curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in a case in which a U.S. citizen filed suit against the government of Saudi Arabia for torture and prolonged arbitrary detention. Scott Nelson alleges that while employed as an engineer at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Saudi Arabia he reported an unsafe condition to his superiors and a government commission of investigation. Thereafter he faced harassment on the job and subsequently was arrested, tortured, forced to sign a statement in Arabic that he did not understand, and held in custody without being told the charges against him for 39 days. The government of Saudi Arabia argued that it had immunity from suit in U.S. courts because it was a foreign sovereign. Nelson responded that because Saudi Arabia's actions were related to his employment, which was commercial in nature, the abusive treatment should be held to fall under the "commercial activity" exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. In its amicus curiae brief, Human Rights Watch argued that Nelson's torture and detention were appropriately treated as "commercial activity" because the Saudi government routinely engages in such abuse in connection with commercial disputes in which it has an interest. Human Rights Watch also stressed that international law requires torture victims to be given an opportunity to obtain compensation from those responsible for their mistreatment: because Nelson is extremely unlikely to obtain civil redress in Saudi courts, the Supreme Court should resolve any ambiguity in the reach of "commercial activity" in favor of providing him a civil remedy in the United States. Argument in the case was heard on November 30, 1992, and a decision is expected in 1993.
· Haitian Centers Council v. McNary. Americas Watch filed two amicus curiae briefs in 1992 in cases alleging that the United States had violated international law in its treatment of Haitian refugees. In the first brief, Americas Watch argued that the continued incommunicado detention at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base of hundreds of Haitians who had made a prima facie showing that theywere refugees violated international law. The Haitians were confined in camps surrounded by barbed wire; were barred from making telephone calls, communicating by mail, or receiving visitors, including attorneys; and were prohibited from traveling anywhere, even at their own expense, except back to Haiti. Americas Watch argued that international law prohibits such prolonged incommunicado detention, and noted numerous instances in which the U.S. State Department had denounced similar detention in other countries. In the second brief, Americas Watch argued that the summary forcible repatriation of Haitian boat people, without screening to exclude refugees, violated the international law prohibition of the forcible return of refugees to countries where they face political persecution. The U.S. government sought to justify the summary repatriations in part by citing a survey it had conducted of 2,500 repatriates, none of whom alleged that they had been persecuted upon their return to Haiti. Americas Watch found that the survey was flawed because it excluded repatriates who are at greatest risk of persecution-those who had not been repatriated because under an earlier policy they had been screened and found to have credible claims of persecution, and those who had been repatriated but perceived themselves to be in too great a danger to risk speaking with U.S. government investigators, particularly in the circumstances of little privacy in which the interviews were often conducted. In both cases, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held in favor of the Haitian refugees. The latter case is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, and Americas Watch is preparing another amicus brief.
· Trajano v. Marcos. In October, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a default judgment against Imee Marcos-Manotoc, daughter of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, for the torture and murder of Archimedes Trajano. The Trajano family alleged that after Archimedes asked a question of Marcos-Manotoc during an open forum at which she was speaking, he was kidnapped, interrogated, and tortured to death by military intelligence personnel who were at the scene. The suit was filed in the United States under the Alien Tort Statute. Marcos-Manotoc did not appear during trial court proceedings. Human Rights Watch supported the Trajano family's arguments that victims of torture and other tortious violations of the law of nations are entitled to access to United States courts.
· Sison v. Marcos. In cooperation with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Human Rights Watch assumed the representation of three Philippine victims of human rights abuses. Along with 21 other individuals and a class of people numbering as many 10,000 who were victims of torture, disappearance and summary execution during the Marcos dictatorship, they sued the estate of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos in the U.S. District Court in Hawaii. In September, a jury ruled in favor of all but one of the victims following a two-week trial during which the jury heard testimony from more than 30 victims of human rights abuses, former U.S. government officials, and leading experts on human rights conditions in the Philippines during the Marcos era.The verdict was a clear statement that victims of human rights abuses can obtain justice in U.S. courts.
· Border Patrol Abuse. In June, Human Rights Watch filed administrative proceedings under the Federal Tort Claims Act on behalf of two Guatemalan nationals who allege that they were tortured by Border Patrol agents near Falfurrias, Texas in 1991. The two men claim that they were beaten while being interrogated about who had assisted them to enter the United States without authorization. One of the men was forced to remove his pants, threatened with rape, and shocked on the buttocks with an 18-inch-long electrical apparatus.
· United States v. Noreiga. Human Rights Watch filed an amicus curiae brief in a district court in Florida in November 1992 in connection with the sentencing of former Panamanian strongman Manuel Noreiga after his conviction on drug trafficking charges. Claiming that he was entitled to treatment as a prisoner of war under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949, Noreiga sought the right to serve his sentence in a military prison rather than a civilian institution. Human Rights Watch concurred with Noreiga's claim of entitlement to prisoner-of-war status and agreed that he was entitled to certain privileges during his incarceration as a result, but disagreed that these privileges included the right to serve a sentence in a military prison as long as a U.S. soldier would be similarly treated, as U.S. regulations provide.