A group of stu­dents in North­eastern University’s School of Law have crafted—and helped pass—a res­o­lu­tion making freedom from domestic vio­lence a human right in the city.

The School of Law joins about a dozen other law schools across the country whose stu­dents have helped pass sim­ilar motions.

On Wednesday after­noon, the Boston City Council unan­i­mously passed Northeastern’s res­o­lu­tion, which was designed by six stu­dents working in the university’s Domestic Vio­lence Clinic. The res­o­lu­tion not only makes freedom from domestic vio­lence a human right in the city, but also includes a pro­vi­sion to design a resource guide for vic­tims of domestic violence.

What is inter­esting with this res­o­lu­tion is that its sponsor, coun­cilman Charles Yancey, made the lan­guage of the res­o­lu­tion very strong,” said Mar­garet Drew, a vis­iting pro­fessor in the Domestic Vio­lence Clinic who helped the stu­dents with this project. “They wanted to make sure some­thing is imple­mented that has con­se­quences, that is going to see prac­tical results,” she added. “This is the first city council con­sid­ering an issue that has taken an interest in ensuring that prac­tical results flow from implementation.”

The res­o­lu­tion arose from the result of a domestic vio­lence case in Col­orado in 1999. Jes­sica Lenahan’s three young daugh­ters were abducted by her estranged hus­band and were later found dead in the back of his pickup truck after he drove to a local police sta­tion and opened fire. Lenahan had a restraining order against him and repeat­edly called the police for assis­tance, but they failed to respond.

Lenahan filed a suit against the police and in 2005 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled she had no Con­sti­tu­tional right to police enforce­ment of her restraining order. She then filed a peti­tion with the Inter-​​American Com­mis­sion on Human Rights, saying the police and the Supreme Court’s deci­sion vio­lated her human rights, which the com­mis­sion agreed with.

The shift we want to make is that people under­stand they have a right to be safe and that it’s not some­thing they need to ask for,” Drew explained.

Two law school stu­dents drafted the res­o­lu­tion and four others pre­sented the res­o­lu­tion to Yancey, who serves on the city council’s Com­mittee on Human Rights and Civil Rights.

Chris Con­frey, L’14, who served as a stu­dent super­visor at the clinic, noted that the draft included a fact sheet showing domestic vio­lence crosses all social and eco­nomic bar­riers. “We wanted to try and look at domestic vio­lence from a proac­tive stand point and see what we could do to make it not some­thing vic­tims have to over­come but can be free of,” Con­frey said.

Stu­dents in Northeastern’s Domestic Vio­lence Clinic work with domestic vio­lence vic­tims at Dorch­ester Dis­trict Court, where they help them obtain emer­gency restraining orders and one-​​year exten­sion orders. In addi­tion, the stu­dents help domestic vio­lence vic­tims find resources in other areas such as family law and housing.

With the help of the city council, the clinic will seek to draft a resource guide to help sur­vivors and ser­vice providers find help in their own neigh­bor­hoods as well as throughout the city. Building on work done by former stu­dents in the clinic, the guide will include basic infor­ma­tion on how to obtain restraining orders while its resources will be orga­nized by neigh­bor­hood for easy use.

So often we think of our base needs as human rights, such as shelter and food, but our safety is tied to that and that is what we are saying with this res­o­lu­tion,” Con­frey explained. “You have a right to be and feel safe.”