Blog of Rights

Steven M.
Watt
Steven Watt is a Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s Human Rights Program. Watt specializes in civil and human rights litigation before domestic courts and international tribunals. Watt is counsel in a host of state and federal court cases involving U.S. rendition, detention, and interrogation programs, trafficking and forced labor, juvenile justice, women’s and immigrants’ rights, and prison conditions.
 
In addition, Watt is counsel in a number of petitions before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, including those addressing domestic violence, arbitrary detention and torture, juvenile life without parole, immigrants’ rights, and voting rights.
 
Prior to joining the ACLU, Watt was a Human Rights Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where he focused on post-9/11 civil and human rights litigation, including Rasul v. Bush, Arar v. Ashcroft, and Turkmen v. Ashcroft.
 
Before taking up residence in the United States, Watt worked for three years as a public defender and legal policy consultant for the Solomon Islands government, managed refugee camps in Tanzania, worked for a community-based development HIV/AIDS program in Uganda, and ran emergency programs for the internally displaced in Liberia.
 
Originally from Scotland, Watt holds a law degree from the University of Aberdeen, a Diploma in Legal Practice from the University of Edinburgh, and an LL.M. in International Human Rights from the University of Notre Dame.
 
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Juwan Wickware being interrogated

Only in America: 16-Year-Old Locked Up for the Rest of His Life

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program & Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 4:37pm
Juwan Wickware wasn't the shooter. But he and more than 2,500 others nationwide will enter prison as teenagers, grow into adults, and die – all behind bars.
Privacy Rights are Human Rights

Privacy Rights are Human Rights

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 10:45am

Today and tomorrow the United Nations Human Rights Committee will review the United States’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. To assist in the review of U.S. compliance with the covenant’s privacy protections,…

U.S. Must Work to End Human Trafficking, Modern-Day Slavery on Government Contracts

U.S. Must Work to End Human Trafficking, Modern-Day Slavery on Government Contracts

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program & Allison Frankel, Criminal Law Reform Project, ACLU at 11:06am

In 2004, Buddhi Prasad Gurung, a young man wishing to provide a better life for his family, left his village in Nepal for Jordan...

Court Rejects Military Contractor's Attempt to Avoid Trial for Human Trafficking

Court Rejects Military Contractor's Attempt to Avoid Trial for Human Trafficking

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 4:21pm

A federal court in Texas struck a blow last week to contractor KBR's attempt to thwart efforts...

All Kids Sentenced to Die in Michigan Prisons Get Second Chance

All Kids Sentenced to Die in Michigan Prisons Get Second Chance

By Brandon Buskey, ACLU Criminal Law Reform Project & Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 4:38pm

363 men and women in Michigan are currently slated to die in prison because of tragic mistakes they made as kids.  In each of these cases, Michigan law gave the judge no choice but to automatically sentence them to life without even the possibility…

Should Diplomats Always Get Immunity?

Should Diplomats Always Get Immunity?

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 4:18pm

A diplomatic furor has erupted between New Delhi and Washington over the recent arrest of an Indian consular official by U.S. authorities for alleged visa fraud and underpayment of a housekeeper who she had brought from India.

In the wake of…

Your Tax Dollars at Work? U.S. Military Contractors and Human Trafficking in War Zones

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program & Valerie Brender, Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project at 2:24pm

Today, we filed a lawsuit to enforce an earlier Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request aimed at tackling the underreported problem of trafficking and abusive treatment of foreign workers on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. More…

"Victims of Complacency": Trafficking and Abuse of Migrant Workers on U.S. Military Bases

"Victims of Complacency": Trafficking and Abuse of Migrant Workers on U.S. Military Bases

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program & Valerie Brender, Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project at 1:29pm

Ramesh, a college graduate from India, borrowed $5,000 from a loan shark to pay a recruiting agent for the opportunity to work in Kuwait as a storekeeper at a wage of $800/month. His aims were simple: to provide a better life for himself and his family.

Out of Step With the World: Juvenile Life Without Parole in the United States

Out of Step With the World: Juvenile Life Without Parole in the United States

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 5:02pm

In the United States, there are over 3,000 people serving life sentences without the possibility of parole for offenses committed when they were children. Among them is Matthew Bentley from Michigan who committed his crime when he was 14 years-old,…

Trafficking in War Zones: Making Zero-Tolerance Meaningful

By Steven M. Watt, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program at 5:36pm

Last week in Little Rock, Ark., Attorney General Eric Holder spoke eloquently and forcefully on the problems of human trafficking in the U.S. Holder noted the problem — one of "crisis proportions" — takes place both outside…

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