California Assemblymember Chris Holden has introduced legislation to extend the statute of limitations for the victims of human rights abuses. AB 15 was approved on May 6 with unanimous, bi-partisan support in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. The vote was 10 to 0. The bill now goes to the Assembly floor for consideration, the Sierra Madre News Net reports.
AB 15 will bring California law into line with federal regulations for filing civil lawsuits based on acts of genocide, torture, war crimes and human trafficking. In California, these human rights abuses are brought as assault, battery or wrongful death claims and carry a two-year statute of limitations. AB 15 extends the statute of limitations to ten years aligning the time limit for filing a human rights claim in California with current federal law.
“This reform is long overdue. Victims often suffer mental and physical problems that prevent them from filing quickly,” pointed out Assemblymember Holden. “Because of that, many of these crimes are never prosecuted and the abuse continues. This bill would help the victims and their families find some measure of justice in the face of these horrific crimes.”
This bill would also revive eligible claims finally allowing victims of the Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, and other historic incidences of human rights violations to seek a remedy for the abuse they suffered.
“Passing this measure would be a critical step towards re-balancing the scales in human rights cases where short filing deadlines currently favor abusers over victims,” said Amanda Werner, Legal and Policy Fellow with International Corporate Accountability Roundtable. “Though the number of cases brought under AB 15 would be small in number, they would be significant in allowing a remedy for survivors, ensuring that perpetrators of the worst human rights abuse cannot find safe harbor within California’s borders.”
AB 15 is supported by a number of local, national and international human rights advocates including Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International, Consumer Attorneys of America, EarthRights International, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable and Oxfam.