Letter to Women’s Rights Org-USA 5/15/14




May 27, 2014

RE: American Victims of Domestic Violence Living Abroad Need Your Assistance

Dear Madam or Sir,

Every year several hundred expatriated American women return to the US with their children, fleeing domestic violence and the failure of foreign courts to protect them. They are then hunted down by their abuser, with the assistance of the FBI, Interpol, local police, and the US Department of State. They are then incarcerated, with their children returned to the abuser and the foreign jurisdiction which was failing to protect them in the first place. Additionally, their deportation to a foreign country and repressive regime is sanctioned under the Hague Convention on international child abduction.

The majority of these situations, as well as the pain and suffering of these women and children could easily (and legally) be avoided if American Consulates around the world were complying with US Department guidelines and federal law (7 FAM, 22 CFR, USC 22).  I myself have been involved in a domestic violence case under Spanish jurisdiction for the past 7 years, with the American Consulate in Madrid refusing to provide me with the assistance required by US federal and international law. (Their refusal to utilize their prerogative under the Convention of Consular Relations and international law to protect and defend the interests of their citizens living abroad is in violation of their ‘responsibility to protect’).

Please find enclosed a copy of my letter to American Ambassador Costos and US Department of State officials (Patrick Kennedy, Jim Pettit & Joyce Namde) requesting that the American Embassy in Madrid, under the Convention of Consular Relations and international law, officially request that the Spanish Defensor del Pueblo comply with their obligation under Spanish law to investigate my allegations. (My request for assistance in the past 7 years has been continually denied under the (false) contention that they are prohibited by law from assisting me – see http://worldpulse.com/node/73335 and http://worldpulse.com/node/64031).

At present, in my efforts to exhaust all domestic remedies before filing my case with the European Court of Human Rights, I have filed a complaint with the Spanish Defensor del Pueblo (Ombudsman) requesting a full investigation into my case and allegations against judicial actors for criminal negligence and human rights violations, elevating these violations to ‘crimes against humanity’ as defined in the Roma Statute of the International Criminal Courts (see attached English translated version of official complaint).

In the past years, not only have I meticulously complied with all laws and court-orders, but have also meticulously documented all negligence and malpractice of my lawyers and irregularities in court procedures and decisions. I have also continually filed complaints with the appropriate Spanish regulatory agencies against all infraction by judicial actors. Unfortunately, as is the ‘habitual custom’ in Spain, these agencies and public authorities are refusing to investigate allegations of victims, and turning a blind-eye to the corruption within their courts. Between 2006 and 2008 the Spanish government spent €4 million on a propaganda campaign proclaiming a ‘Cero Tolerance’ for domestic violence, yet the real ‘zero tolerance’ is for the victims who dare to speak-out.

If appropriate ‘public authorities’ in Spain were systematically investigating these cases and holding lawyers, judges and other implicated actors accountable for their infractions of the law, then the ‘War on Domestic Terrorism’ would quickly and painlessly be won. [1]

Spanish judicial actors have a utopian legal structure (Spanish Constitution, international treaties, civil & penal code, and equality and gender violence laws) at their disposition to further the rights of victims of domestic violence and combat discrimination against women in the courts, but are failing, and even refusing, to utilize them in defending their clients. Traditions and customs which cover-up for domestic violence, and silence victims have been so deeply incrusted into Spanish cultural norms over thousands of years that without extreme external pressure from women’s and human rights groups judicial actors will continue in their failure to develop legal arguments and jurisprudence that utilize these laws. The situation at present is one of the fox guarding the hen house, with no one guarding or restraining the fox – resulting in the dis-protection and re-victimization of thousands of women and children each year.  

The crux of the problem (in the failure of courts to protect victims) is not the necessity for more legislation. The crux of the problem is that Spanish regulatory agencies are not diligently investigating the negligence of judicial actors (thereby assuring transparency and accountability of judicial systems). These agencies will continue to turn a blind-eye to the situation, with judicial actors continuing in their negligence until, and unless, women’s and human rights groups pressure them (through strongly worded correspondence, high-profile media coverage, and/or law-suits) to hold judicial actors accountable for their actions, and omissions of actions.

Unfortunately, this state of affairs is exemplary of the situation throughout Europe, North America & Australia and is why at present approximately 2-4 million children in these continents are suffering horrific sexual and physical abuse at the hands of custodial parents, with an additional 4000 women killed each year and millions more raped, tortured, and physically and mentally maimed.

Governments in these three continents are continually contending that domestic violence is a ‘private matter’ and ‘civil dispute’. They rationalize that their failure to protect victims of domestic abuse is ‘protected’ under the contention that “[the principle of] due process…was intended to prevent government “from abusing [its] power, or employing it as an instrument of oppression.” (US Supreme Court decision DeShaney v. Winnebago, 1989); failing to recognize the basic tenant of a democracy – that a government exists to serve its people, rather than a people existing to serve its government.

Additionally, this contention and rationalization has been refuted by jurisprudence of international courts, finding domestic violence a human rights violation, and establishing a government’s responsibility to protect under the principle of due diligence (Gonzales vs. USA, Velasquez vs. Honduras, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and A vs. UK, European Court of Human Rights).

Also, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) in its report, The Responsibility to Protect (2001), declares that when a government fails to fulfill its obligation to protect, “the principle of non-intervention yields to the international community” [2]

The authority and right of the international community to intervene when a government is not fulfilling its ‘responsibility to protect’ its citizens is further established under the principle of universal jurisdiction. Amnesty International in its report Universal Jurisdiction – A Preliminary Survey of Legislation Around the World, “Universal jurisdiction is the ability of the court of any state to try persons for crimes committed outside its territory that are not linked to the state by the nationality of the suspect or the victims or by harm to the state’s own national interests.”[3]  It further states that “impunity exists mainly when the national authorities of countries affected by the crimes fail to act, it is important that the national criminal and civil justice systems of all countries can step in to prosecute the crimes on behalf of the international community and award reparations to victims.” [4]

But, beyond ideological development and human rights jurisprudence in the past few decades by the international community, their right and obligation to combat domestic violence, and prosecute those who encourage that violence, emanates from the ever pressing need to promote a world of peace and economic stability and equality. Dictators, murders, rapist, violent criminals, bullies, etc. are not born, they are created by being exposed to abuse, torture and violence from a very early age and for prolonged periods of time. This cycle of abuse is maintained by communities and institutions where abusive personalities are prevalent and abuse is justified by the most powerful and influential members, above all judicial actors who are the ultimate ‘keepers of the peace and justice’ and ‘legal barometers’ in any society.

As the United Nations states in In-depth Study on All Forms of Violence Against Women “Women’s movements and human rights organizations have a crucial role to play in initiatives to address violence against women, in particular to translate international standards into reality at the local level… [and] as lobbying tools and benchmarks for assessing government efforts to prevent, eliminate and redress such violence.” Their report Good Practices in Combating and Eliminating Violence Against Women further states that “The fact that violence against women occurs in cross-border contexts also invites the development of cross-border cooperation.”

My organization, Global Expats’, mission is to assist expatriated families around the world, targeting the globally mobile homemaker. We are in a unique position to lobby and advocate for necessary judicial reform in a cross-border context, as well as challenge at a grass-roots level the norms and customs which sustain and perpetuate discrimination and violence against women in countries and communities around the world.

It is for this reason I hope that you and the National Organization for Women will assist me in challenging and reversing the discriminatory policies of the US Department of State and Spanish government, thereby setting precedence for other victims all over the world.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. For more information about me and my work, please consult www.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Quenby/Wilcox. If you should have any questions, I may be contacted at my email, quenby@global-xpats.com.


Quenby Wilcox

Founder – Global Expats

Founder – Safe Child International


[1]Please note that not only can lawyers, but also judges in Spain can be held criminally accountable for violating the rights of citizens during judicial procedures – as seen in the case of ex-judge Baltazar Garzon (see http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2106537,00.html, & http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/10/baltasar-garzon-options). The double standard of Spanish authorities who are willing to persecute a judge who investigates crimes against humanity under Franco, but refuse to investigate judges involved in the cover-up of crimes against humanity of today is perpetuating a dictatorial and oppressive judicial system.
[2] (http://responsibilitytoprotect.org/ICISS%20Report.pdf“(1) Basic Principles A. State sovereignty implies responsibility, and the primary responsibility for the protection of its people lies with the state itself.  B. Where a population is suffering serious harm, as a result of … state failure, and the state in question is unwilling or unable to halt or avert it, the principle of non-intervention yields to the international responsibility to protect.
[3] Amnesty International, Universal jurisdiction: The duty of states to enact and implement legislation, AI Index: IOR 53/003/2001, September 2001, Ch. One (Definitions), p. 11. The International Law Commission has adopted an identical approach in its working definition of universal jurisdiction. Preliminary report on the ‘Obligation to extradite or prosecute (‘aut dedere aut judicare’)’, A/CN.4/571, by Zdzislaw Galicki, Special Rapporteur, International Law Commission, Fiftyeighth session, Geneva, 1May-9 June and 3 July- 11 August 2006, para. 19. In addition, the same definition is used in the International Bar Association’s Report of the Task Force on Extraterritorial Jurisdiction, 2008, p.151 (http://www.ibanet.org/Publications/publications_books.aspx).
[4] http://www.amnesty.org/en/international-justice/issues/universal-jurisdiction

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