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Have sex offender registration laws been challenged on grounds of human rights violations as evident in International Treaties?

Miami, FL |

While I understand it is impossible to challenge these laws while residing in the United States... Is anyone aware of challenges to the laws brought at the International level?

There are many treaties that the United States is signatory to protecting certain fundamental human rights. I am trying to find case law, if there is any, on challenges brought by other governments or treaty bodies regarding the registration laws.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Best answer

    If you believe that a sex offender registration law violates the US Constitution, you can challenge that in court, if you are a subject of that law. If you believe that a sex offender registration law violates treaties, you are pretty much out of luck. US law holds that the executive branch of government has full authority over the administration of treaties. A treaty between the US and another government does not give an individual standing to invoke the provisions of the treaty, though you could always try anyway. Only a signatory government has any standing to challenge the US government's interpretation of a treaty. Even then, it would not be a court challenge, but a diplomatic challenge, that calls into play US foreign policy. Courts will refuse to get involved in the US relationship with other nations.

    Also, I suppose it is fair to mention that I am unaware of any treaty, to which the US is a signatory, that makes it unlawful to require registration of people convicted of crimes. It appears that you are in Florida. It is my understanding that in Florida, all ex-felons are required to register, whether a sex offender or not, and that failure to register as required is itself a felony. In many other states, registration is required only of sex offenders. In some states, there is no registration requirement at all.

    It would be useful if you were to specify the treaty you believe has been violated, and post the exact treaty language that you would want to rely on in making your claim, so that we attorneys could have a better basis for understanding your claim.

    There is no international tribunal or court to which one government can go, seeking to overturn the actions of another government in convicting or punishing a person. There also is no international tribunal to which the individual can go. The bottom line is that if you do not like these laws, you can either lobby against them with the state legislature, or bring a court action in a US or state court challenging the constitutionality of the laws. I point out that since court rulings consistently have found that registration is not "punishment," it could not possibly be prohibited by the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. The convict got due process of law at his trial or at his guilty plea. Therefore, I do not see a strong basis for a challenge to these laws in US courts. Your main remedy would therefore be political, with the state legislature. However, I am sure you are aware that people convicted of sex offenses are not particularly popular with politicians and I have trouble seeing you get support at this time for what you want.

    Because the registration laws are based on the residence of the offender, if you move to a state or country that does not have registration laws you very probably would be relieved of any responsibility to register.

    Contact me at 248-399-6930 for a free consultation. You and I do not have an attorney-client relationship formed by our communications on this website. Advice given by me on this website is general advice based on partial information. You should not rely on any advice given without first hiring a lawyer in the area where the case is pending, and providing that lawyer with full information.


  2. In order for case law to have been made on the topic, someone would have had to had their case issue ruled on at the appellate level. For someone to do that, they would need "standing" to have challenged a prior decision. So, no government or treaty organization has that right. They may support one party of a case, or, for example, file an amicus brief in a case, but they cannot directly seek some advisory opinion as to whether or not one country's laws violate international definitions or human rights not enumerated in our own constitution.

    Your argument so0unds more like what you are saying is that these laws violate the existing rights under our constitution and the definitions of human rights as used in treaties and agreed to by the United States, when we are a party to such a treaty, in other contexts are a way of showing this. In other words, if the US believes X when they signed this treaty, how they can we also say Y when discussing this particular case involving the sex offender laws.

    I suggest you search law review articles on the topic for fresh ideas. also, try Google Scholar to see what is available for free. Good luck.

    The above is provided for educational purposes only and is not legal advice nor makes you a client of the Mosca Law Firm, PA. Please consult with a lawyer in order to obtain confidential legal advice that is tailored to your specific situation and facts.

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