What is a Human Rights Attorney?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 March 2020
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A human rights attorney is one who specializes in laws related to a person’s rights and freedoms necessary to life and liberty. These laws often work to uphold a person’s dignity and worth. Often referred to as international human rights law, these laws span regional and domestic areas, too. The exact laws and their interpretations might vary from location to location, necessitating human rights attorneys. Regardless of where a person is located, a human rights attorney will work to protect his rights and enter into human rights litigation if necessary.

Generally speaking, human rights laws are laws that deal with a human being’s most basic rights and freedoms as they are related to that human’s life and liberty. These laws span domestic, regional, and international levels, and may vary slightly or even drastically depending on the location. Overall, laws dealing with the right to engage in religious freedom and political activity, the right to have a fair trial, and the right to avoid torture are all considered human rights laws. Also considered human rights laws are laws regarding freedom regarding employment, equality, expression, and education. A human rights attorney is educated about and experienced in dealing with a particular area’s human rights laws.


A human rights attorney will represent a variety of clients in a variety of situations. This is especially true given the various branches of human rights law and the laws and interpretations of different areas. Too, a number of treaties have been established to cover assorted international settings. For example, a human rights attorney might represent a man who has been the victim of racial discrimination one day and a woman who has been the victim of torture the next day. These lawyers might also get involved in cases about the rights of children, women, and people with disabilities, as well as cases involving genocide.

Many lawyers concentrate on human rights laws. A person in need of a human rights attorney can search law firms as well as organizations that focus on protecting human rights. Depending on where the person or people are located, it might be best to solicit several human rights lawyers. For example, for human rights litigation involving an American company located in another country, it would make sense to seek help from human rights lawyers from both countries. At the very least, the attorneys should be familiar with international human rights law as it relates to each country.


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