Dept. of State NGO “Consultation” Regarding US UPR 2020

The US State Department hosted one consultation for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review on January 27, 2020 at the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C. This occurred one week before the United States will finalize its report to the United Nations. If you were unable to attend, and many of our partner groups could not, then submit your thoughts on the human rights record of the United States and what the State Department should say to USUPR2020@state.gov. Last year a coalition of sex worker rights organizations submitted a national report to the United Nations for the Universal Periodic Review in May 2020. Below is a summary of BPPP’s statement that was presented in person by our coordinator yesterday.

The Best Practices Policy Project, an organization that is dedicated to supporting the health and rights of sex workers and related communities in the United States, will present about issues emerging from our coalition report submitted for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). We would like to note that many of our partner organizations who worked on and contributed to our coalition UPR report could not access this consultation process. They are the Desiree Alliance, the Outlaw Project and the Black Sex Worker Collective. We cannot make up for their absence. However, we will raise some of our key concerns. We are pleased to see that our colleague from the New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance is able to be here today.


Throughout the U.S. and at the borders criminalization and stigmatization of sex workers, and those profiled as such, prevents them from exercising their human rights and has directly resulted in rights violations by state agents. The current U.S. administration is violating the rights of immigrants as many others here have noted today. We would like to provide some information about this that has not yet been stated. The intersection of this with anti-prostitution policies has resulted in the death of migrant sex workers at the hands of state agents, the incarceration of migrant sex workers in rights violating detention centers, and deportation. The U.S. government has engaged in a sustained campaign to roll back the rights of transgender people. Transgender people are assumed to be sex workers by the authorities, leading to incarceration and immigration detention, where they are harmed, highly vulnerable to sexual assaults, and killed. We bring to your attention to the cases of Roxsana Hernandez, a transgender woman who died while seeking asylum in 2018, Layleen Polanco, an Afro-Latina transgender woman died in solitary confinement in 2019, and Yang Song, an immigrant woman who died as a result of a NYC anti-prostitution raid in 2017. In a previous UPR the United States accepted recommendation 86 that required that the US “…“[u]ndertake awareness‐raising campaigns for combating stereotypes and violence against [LGBT people] and ensure access to public services, paying attention to the special vulnerability of sex workers to violence and human rights abuses.” The US has passed new laws since the last UPR, such as the 2018 Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act (SESTA) and Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA). This legislation limits the sharing of vital safety information for sex workers online and causes economic harm and social marginalization, including violating the right to freedom of association and assembly that have been affirmed at the US Supreme Court. This new law is undermining HIV programs, a serious situation given that the needs of sex workers are not adequately addressed in the US.


Our question is as follows, and we hope that the State Department will respond to this in the forthcoming report: “what has the United States done to stop rights violations against sex workers and to reduce vulnerability to violence of sex workers and communities often affected by violations due to being assumed to be sex workers?” This question also relates to the acceptance of UPR recommendation 86 in 2011.

Navigating AIDS2020 (first steps)

Breaking down barriers to attend International AIDS Conferences is a central element of BPPP’s work. Attending the conferences allows sex worker, drug user, indigenous and trans rights representatives, who have been marginalized repeatedly in the HIV/AIDS discourse, to forge global connections, protest, educate and be heard. The International AIDS Society has made the incorrect decision to host AIDS2020 in San Francisco in ways that even further marginalize our communities and place global attendees at risk should they attempt to enter the United States at a time of violence and oppression at US borders.

One of BPPP’s key partners in HIV/AIDS policy work is the Outlaw Project. We have been vocal participants in actions to pressure to move the conference from San Francisco. Now that official AIDS2020 deadlines approach we want to share our thinking with community members who may be struggling with what steps to take. Our approach is that our communities are NOT to blame for the mistakes of the IAS and we will not shame or question decisions people make to have their voices heard or to protest. This is their mess, not ours. We encourage people from our communities to apply to present in all aspects of AIDS2020 (deadline for Abstracts is January 14, 2020) and to apply for a scholarship by January 15, 2020 (11:59pm CET/5:59pm EST/2:59pm PST). This is called “getting a foot in the door” so that we will have space and whatever funds available to get activists to San Francisco as needs be. We will not be silent. We will be reaching out and working with local groups in San Francisco to follow their lead and sharing resources so that people who choose to go to AIDS2020, know the risks they are facing, have the best accommodation possible and are in solidarity with local organizations. Please reach out to us at hivaidsbppp@gmail.com if you need any help applying for AIDS2020 and check out our webinar recording from 2018 about how to apply.

#Move! Secondly, we support alternate conference sites in countries other than the US and we will also be fundraising for people to go to these alternate conferences just as we did for AIDS2012. However, relatively few members of our community can travel due to restrictions on travel documents placed on our US based members because of the prison industrial complex and other oppression. We support actions inside and outside of the US to hold AIDS2020, the US and the IAS accountable.

Please reach out to us at hivaidsbppp@gmail.com if you have any coalition you would like us to join or if you would like to join with us. We are working with numerous organizations not listed here who inform our approach.


Donate to Our UN Journey: $1000 goal

WE NEED YOUR TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS to support a sex workers of color-led rights team to the UN. As part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) sex worker rights advocates have submitted a national report to the United Nations about the violations of our rights over the last five years. The next step is that sex worker rights leaders will travel to Geneva, Switzerland to speak to member countries about the criminalization of our communities. Our UN team will be led by Black transgender women, specifically experienced UN advocate Monica Jones, supporting the advocacy of Black leaders such as N’Jaila Rhee, Jiselle and Akynos who will be traveling to Geneva for the very first time.

When donating please list “UPR” in the “add special instructions” line in order to earmark your donation to support the team, as per the example below. Donated and forgot to type in UPR in the special instructions line? Send us an email and we will make sure to use the money for the team.

Checks can be made out to and mailed to our fiscal sponsor Social and Environmental Entrepreneursat 23532 Calabasas Road, Suite A, Calabasas, CA 91302. Please be sure to write checks payable to SEE and write “Best Practices Policy Project” in the memo line.

PRESS RELEASE: Sex Worker Rights Groups tell the United Nations how the U.S. violates human rights

PRESS RELEASE

Contacts: 

Janet Duran (212) 882-1161/N’Jaila Rhee newjerseyrua@gmail.com

P. Saunders, bestpracticespolicyproject@gmail.com

Cris Sardina, director@desireealliance.org

Akynos, blackSWCollective@protonmail.com

Monica Jones, theoutlawprojectinc@gmail.com

Sex Worker Rights Groups tell the United Nations how the U.S. violates human rights


Newark, NJ – October 3rd, 2019  – Today, the Black Sex Worker Collective, the Outlaw Project, Desiree Alliance, BPPP and New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance submitted a shadow report to the United Nations.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a United Nations session to hold member countries responsible for their human rights records. The United States is being reviewed in 2020 for the first time in five years. Today we submitted a 10 page shadow report to the United Nations about the human rights abuses sex workers face and in the coming months sex workers will travel to Geneva, Switzerland to speak to member countries about the criminalization of our communities.

“We are calling on the United States to immediately end the atrocities of current border policies in the United States that impact all immigrants, including sex workers,” says Janet Duran of New Jersey Red Umbrella Alliance. “Our report documents the death of migrant sex workers at the hands of state agents, the incarceration of migrant sex workers in rights violating detention centers, and the deportation of vulnerable people back into harm’s way. The deaths of people like Yang Song and Roxsana Hernandez must not happen again.”

The U.S. is obligated to uphold everyone’s human rights, including the rights to housing, education and healthcare; the right to be free from arbitrary arrest, due process violations, and invasions of privacy; the right to be free from torture and inhumane treatment; the rights of migrants; as well as rights related to the U.S. obligation to eliminate racial discrimination. The U.S. violates these rights on a routine basis when it comes to sex workers and people in the sex trade. The UPR provides a space for the world to hear about how the U.S. has violated human rights over the past four years. 

“The U.S. government has engaged in a sustained campaign to roll back the rights of transgender people and we are calling out these abuses at the UN so that the world will learn what is happening,” says Monica Jones, founder of the Arizona based Outlaw Project, “We believe that member states of the UN will agree that it is time to put an end to anti-sex work policing practices targeting transgender people.”

To download a full copy of the report pls visit: http://www.bestpracticespolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SWCoalition_UPR36_USA_2019.pdf

To download a short one page summary of the report pls visit:

To learn more about the UPR process visit:  tinyurl.com/UPR2020info