Using multi-pronged strategies to decrease abuses in the community
Every year, the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR) conducts a one-week campaign to document human rights abuses from police agencies in communities in El Paso County and Southern New Mexico. This sampling is the starting point for the BNHR to change practices through rights education, engagement with law enforcement agencies and, occasionally, legal action. The reports from the documentation campaign also provide an over view of the state of human rights in our community. After ten years of reports and subsequent work, the BNHR can see things have changed for the better, with fewer cases of abuse reported.
Although the annual study is by no means a scientific survey, the BNHR always strived for consistency in its documentation process in order to be able to compared, year after year. About 60 community members trained by the BNHR are sent into the community to collect testimonials. The result of a 10-year overview is that, with some fluctuations, there have had fewer reports of abuse, from 43 cases in 2000 to 19 in 2009.
The BNHRâ€™s strategy of engaging with law enforcement agencies to resolve individual cases and address possible trends of abuse has paid off. In 2000, most of the complaints that were recorded (65%) were against federal agencies such as the Border Patrol. This state of affairs went on for a few years, during which time, the BNHR starting educating the community about their civil and human rights. At the same time, the BNHR reached out to the Border Patrol to express concern about the reported abuse and held community forums in which community members were able to speak directly to Border Patrol officials. There are now more reports of abuse recorded against local law enforcement, a trend that the BNHR is now monitoring.