Attorneys for the Rights of the Child was involved in the passage into law earlier this month of the first state-level comprehensive human rights accountability bill in the United States. California’s AB 15 unfortunately does not explicitly address children’s rights to protection against genital cutting but still represents a step forward in providing for lawsuits involving human rights claims to be brought at the state level.
California will be the first state to offer survivors of human rights abuses an extended period to file their claims in court. The reform bill extends the statute of limitations from two to ten years for serious human rights abuses, including torture, war crimes, extrajudicial killing, and crimes against humanity. It also extends the time for filing human trafficking claims.
AB 15 is the first state law that attempts to address accountability for a range of serious human rights abuses. It marks the first time that any U.S. state has codified a definition of crimes against humanity; even the federal government has not done so. The law also provides an award of attorneys’ fees for victims who prove their claims.