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Parents of Parkland School Shooting Victim, Joaquin Oliver, File Human Rights Lawsuit Against U.S. Government

By Nadia El-Yaouti | Posted on November 20, 2023

Washington Post via Pete Marovich via

Photo Source: Washington Post via Pete Marovich

Seventeen-year-old Joaquin Oliver was shot and killed by a classmate in Parkland, Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. Today, his parents have filed a first-of-its-kind human rights lawsuit accusing the U.S. government of prioritizing Second Amendment gun rights over their son's right to live.

The lawsuit was filed by the group Global Action for Gun Violence and the Civil Rights Clinic at George Washington University School of Law on behalf of Joaquin's parents, Manuel and Patricia Oliver.

The lawsuit argues that the U.S.’s inability to regulate gun control in the nation has led to violence including the death of Oliver and 16 of his classmates and educators. In failing to stop gun manufacturers from profiting off of what many call a uniquely American issue —mass shootings— the lawsuit says the U.S.’s actions violate international human rights laws, taking away their son’s human right to live.

Joaquin’s father, Manuel Oliver, explains, "My son was shot 280,000 victims ago. So this is happening really often. We had a mass shooting a couple of weeks ago and we don't see anyone offended about it. So sometimes you have to take things by your own hands."

Attorney and president of the Global Action on Gun Violence, Jonathan Lowy, says that with their lawsuit, they would like the “Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to declare that the U.S. is violating its human rights obligations.”

The lawsuit explains, "Joaquin Oliver was killed as a consequence of the actions and omissions of the United States of America that enabled and facilitated high-risk firearm sales to unsuitable civilian buyers and prevented the adoption of widely accepted measures to protect persons from being injured or killed by guns."

International human rights laws were adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) outlines the basic civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights all humans should be allowed to enjoy and states are bound to respect. Over the years, the widely accepted UDHR has been adopted into the International Bill of Human Rights, a series of international human rights treaties which developed a sort of legal guidance member-countries adhere to.

In observing these international human rights treaties, governments, including the United States, agree to maintain and respect the standard of human rights. If domestic legal proceedings fail to ensure that an individual's human rights are protected, there are systems in place at the international level that can help individuals fight for their rights to be recognized and respected.

Since his son's death, Manuel Oliver has been the face of gun reform in the nation. Joaquin’s mother has also joined in on the effort for tighter gun reform measures and recently published a children's book titled ‘Joaquin's First School Shooting’ earlier this year. The book tells the story of how her son was murdered in a mass school shooting and serves as a “Children’s Book to Explain Gun Violence to Childish Politicians.” Joaquin’s mother hand-delivered the book to lawmakers in Washington this past spring.

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