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Students Report on Human Rights Concerns in Advance of Visit by U.N. Special Rapporteur

Professor Eric Tars' International Human Rights Law class fall 2017 Left to Right: 2L Ronald Bradley Bowen, 2L Elizabeth Bertolino, 3L Matthew Mecoli, Professor Tars, 3L Steven Tambon, MLS student Dylan O'Donoghue, 2L Nina Gurak

October 18, 2017

Six students prepared reports detailing human rights concerns for the U.N. special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, who will visit the U.S. in December.

The students completed the reports as an assignment for the International Human Rights Advocacy and Practice class they are taking with adjunct Professor Eric Tars, the senior attorney at the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.

The reports cover an array of human rights violations faced by those living in the U.S.

  • 2L Elizabeth Bertolino wrote about violations of human rights resulting from the indefinite detention of asylum-seeking refugees, including women and children, at the Berks County Residential Center in Leesport, Pennsylvania.
  • 2L Ronald Bradey Bowen reported on the criminalization of drug addicts, particularly in Appalachia, has deprived individuals in many states of health care services they need while making it harder to find employment when they return to the community.
  • 2L Nina Gurak advocated for the decriminalization of sex work, citing discrimination and the risk of violence faced by prostitutes.
  • Dylan O’Donoghue, a student in the Master of Legal Studies program, reported on the needs of homeless youth, noting that thousands of incidents reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline in 2016 covered minors who had become victims of work scams or sex trafficking.
  • 3L Matthew Mecoli wrote about the risks of substance abuse, suicide and homelessness that LGBT youth face due to family rejection and the need for intervention programs that educate families and promote unification.
  • 3L Steven Tambon wrote about the lack of access to health care services faced by those in extreme poverty and the impact of clinic closures in low-income communities.

Tars said he has invited the rapporteur to visit Philadelphia when he comes to the U.S.