Civil Action

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Background

A defendant who has had his or her constitutional rights violated by the state may have a civil action against either the individual or against the state itself. In some cases this remedy is provided for by statute. In other cases, the remedy is provided by the courts themselves through common law decisions.

International Remedies

Many countries have signed international treaties such as the Convention Against Torture, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other instruments which include provisions for individuals who suffer violatins of their human rights. Typically individuals who bring cases in international courts must first show they have exhausted all the local remedies that are available to them.

United States

A defendant may have an action against the state pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983:

Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer's judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.

A defendant may be able to collect damages from an individual on a tort theory of assault or battery.


See Rights of the Accused