Where do you go when the law at home doesn't protect you? Many people across the globe have sought help from the United Nations and international law.
Such people include victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity and as well as people suffering from police brutality, displacement, disenfranchisement and other circumstances that deprive citizens of the world of basic human rights.
Now prisoners held in California's super-maximum housing units ("SHU's") are following suit. They claim they suffer from prison police brutality in California that amounts to torture and other unacceptable treatment under international law.
SHU inmates are subjected to extreme isolation and deprived of virtually all forms of human contact for years at a time. Some SHU inmates have been sent to the SHU on unsubstantiated "gang evidence" or for disruptive conduct behind bars that is unrelated to their crimes on the outside.
Prisoners claiming prison police brutality in California are not alone in looking to international law to help solve seemingly domestic human rights problems. Recently the United States Supreme Court postponed ruling on whether corporations can be sued in U.S. federal court for aiding human rights abuse abroad.
In the Petition to United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention the inmates reference a number of international covenants and treaties that form a core base of "international law" protecting fundamental human rights.
These include the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment.