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How Do You File A Claim Under The Human Rights Act?

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How Do You File A Claim Under The Human Rights Act?

The Individual Communications procedure brings individual complaints of human rights violations according to the provisions set out by human rights treaties before treaty bodies or Committees that investigate human rights violations.  

There are nine core international human rights treaties, each having a treaty or Committee of experts that continually monitor how States implement these international human rights treaties. 

These nine treaties are:

  1. Political and civil rights.
  2. Inhuman, degrading, torture, and cruel punishment or treatment.
  3. Discrimination according to race.
  4. Discrimination according to gender.
  5. The rights of individuals with disabilities.
  6. The protection of persons from enforced disappearance.
  7. The rights of migrants (working) and their families.
  8. Social, cultural, and economic rights.
  9. Children’s rights.

Conditions for Lodging a Complaint

Please note that a human rights complaint can only be brought against a State or country under the following conditions:

  1. The State must be a party to the human rights treaty in question providing that human rights have been violated. To check if a State is currently party to a human rights treaty, click here and choose the associated treaty from the list provided.
  2. The State must recognize the competence of the treaty Committee that’s monitoring the human rights treaty in question. The State must also acknowledge that and agree to the Committee monitoring human rights violations and receiving complaints from individuals.

Who Can Lodge a Complaint

Any person can complain of human rights violations of any of the above treaties to the attention of the United Nations. Every year, thousands of complaints are processed from individuals. You don’t require a lawyer or need to be familiar with technical law terms in order to complain. The process is designed to make it accessible to all persons.

Complaints can also be lodged on behalf of individuals by third parties. In these occurrences, complaints should include written consent. However, third-party complaints may be accepted in circumstances where it’s impossible to obtain written consent. For example, when an individual is held in prison without access to the outside or in cases of forced disappearances.

Complaints Procedure: Overview

As mentioned, the human rights complaint mechanism is designed in such a manner that anyone can bring an alleged violation of human rights to the attention of the human rights treaties (Committees) by lodging an official complaint. 

Treaty Committees are composed of experts that are independently chosen by States to oversee and monitor a specific human rights treaty and the rights set forth by that particular treaty (as per the nine treaties stipulated in the introduction of this document). 

Each reporting and processing procedure varies between the nine mechanisms. Each treaty has a general description of the human rights or violations it pertains to. In going forward, you should identify which of these nine treaties are violated and follow the procedures that each treaty violation stipulates. 

All treaty Committees consider complaints from individuals alleging abuse to themselves or third parties. For more information on supplemental treaties and protocols for specific concerns, please click here.

How to Direct Your Complaints

To direct any complaints to any of the above human rights Committees may be directed through the following communication channels. Please ensure to mark your inquiries and correspondence for the attention of the appropriate human rights Committee:

  • Mail:

Petitions and Inquiries Section

High Commissioner for Human Rights (Office of The)

United Nations Office in Geneva

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

  • Fax: + 41 22 917 90 22

(particularly for urgent matters)

Additional Documentation for Your Reference

Unfortunately, we can’t go through all the guidelines to help you on your way. However, there’s additional documentation that you should refer to before lodging any human rights complaint:



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