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Following the death of Trayvon Martin and the historic thirty-one day sit in of the Florida Capitol building, the Community Justice Project, the Dream Defenders and the NAACP took the fight against Stand Your Ground all the way to the United Nations.


In the 2013 List of Issues of the UN Human Rights Committee for the Fourth Periodic Report of the United States, issue 9(a) specifically requested additional information on “Stand Your Ground” (SYG) laws and any blanket immunity they provide to persons using force. Together with the Dream Defenders and the NAACP, the Community Justice Project took the opportunity to respond to this issue and filed a shadow report in advance of the US's review of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on March 13-14, 2014.  

At the hearing, Human Rights Committee Member Walter Kälin found Stand Your Ground laws to be "incompatible" with Article 6 of the Covenant on the Right to Life.  In its Concluding Observations, the Committee reiterated its concern about "the proliferation of such laws which are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6 and 26)" and recommended that the US "[r]eview the Stand Your Ground laws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self-defence."  


On the heels of the ICCPR review, CJP together with a host of other organizations were granted a thematic hearing on March 25th for the 150th session of The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to examine the impact of stand your ground laws on minority communities in the United States.  CJP Attorney Meena Jagannath testified alongside:

  • Sybrina Fulton, Mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin;
  • Ron Davis, Father of slain teenager Jordan Davis;  
  • Lorraine C. Miller, NAACP Interim President and CEO; 
  • Ahmad Abuznaid Esq, Legal & Policy Director Dream Defenders Inc.;  
  • Aleta Alston-Toure, Free Marissa Now;  
  • Caroline Bettinger-López, Esq,  Associate Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law;   
  • Alisa Bierria, Free Marissa Now & Center for Race & Gender, UC Berkeley;  
  • Hilary Shelton; NAACP Sr. Vice President for Policy & Advocacy/ Washington Bureau Director; 
  • Charlotte Joseph Cassel, M.P.H., University of Miami School of Law Human Rights Clinic; and
  • Dr. Niaz Kasravi, NAACP Criminal Justice Director.   

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) whose mission is to promote and protect human rights in the American hemisphere.

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Meena Jagannath of the Community Justice Project together with Ahmad Abuznaid, Caroline Bettinger-Lopez and Charlotte Cassel co-authored a article in the University of Miami Law Review that examined the human rights implications of  the Florida Stand Your Ground laws. 

The article looks at the human rights implications of Stand Your Ground laws, contending that they are applied in an inconsistent and discriminatory manner and have a particularly harsh impact on racial minorities, youth, and female survivors of intimate partner violence. These laws have been shown to have a particularly pernicious effect on minority youth, who are more likely to fall victim to an aggressor's weapon in SYG jurisdictions. Conversely, individuals who might legitimately benefit from a SYG defense, such as survivors of domestic violence who act in self-defense, could be denied access to these protections of the law--especially when they are women of color.

The article argues that Stand Your Ground laws in the United States are over-broad because they grant a license to use deadly force and amplify existing racial, age, and gender biases. As a result, Stand Your Ground laws are incompatible with several fundamental protections under international human rights law, including the rights to life, equal protection/non-discrimination, due process and access to the courts, family unity, and the best interests of the child.  The concerns have resulted in recent expressions of concern about Stand Your Ground laws by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.