Human Rights Watch Report: Thousands of Rape Kits Untested in Los Angeles, USA
Monday, April 6, 2009 1:57 PM

A March 2009 report from Human Rights Watch revealed that 12,669 rape kits containing DNA and other evidence of rapes remain untested in the city and county of Los Angeles, California. Rape kits are important for proving cases of rape or proving the innocence of the accused. The Police and Sheriff's Departments are working on reducing the large backlog of cases amidst problems of politics and funding. The report acknowledges that the testing of these rape kits can be crucial for many victims because of a state law imposing a 10-year statute of limitations on bringing charges unless a rape kit is tested within two years of the crime.

The rate of violence in Los Angeles is down in recent years, but only 25 percent of reported rapes involve an arrest. Where rape kits are used and had DNA evidence, the cases “were significantly more likely to move forward in the criminal justice system."

International human rights law, including several treaties to which the United States is party, define rape as a human rights abuse and require states to protect and prevent the crime, including by individual actors.

The report concludes that, “[t]he remedy will require a comprehensive plan that is made known to the public, compliance with existing laws, and swift and efficient action.”

For access to the full report, click here.

Compiled from: Testing Justice: The Rape Kit Backlog in Los Angeles City and County, Human Rights Watch, March 2009 [PDF, 65 pages].