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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today released a report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee condemning the US government for failing to meet its treaty obligations to protect and preserve a range of human rights protections rights at home and abroad. Calling attention to some of society’s most vulnerable members, including women, children, minorities, immigrants and defendants, the ACLU offered detailed recommendations to align the United States with universally recognized standards. in matters of human rights.
“America should be a beacon of freedom around the world, not a country that violates the basic human rights of its own people,” said Ann Beeson, associate legal director of the ACLU.
The report, Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: US Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, documents the United States’ human rights record in five areas: national security, women’s rights, racial justice, immigrant rights and religious freedom.
The Human Rights Committee is the expert body of the United Nations responsible for monitoring countries’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the main human rights treaty. The United States ratified the treaty in 1992. The committee will consider the official US government submission July 17-18 in Geneva. The ACLU will send a delegation to present the report and follow the proceedings.
Dimming the Beacon of Freedom provides a detailed description of human rights abuses in the United States. In addition to the impact of these rights violations on other vulnerable groups in the United States, the report highlights how, in the wake of September 11, 2001, Arabs, Muslims and South Asians, and to some measure all immigrants, have been victims of discriminatory targeting by the government. He draws attention to the erosion of the right to privacy, discussing expanded surveillance and the government’s growing use of secret state privilege to avoid accountability for abuse.
The ACLU’s recommendations urge the United States to:
- Ensure federal legal remedies are available to all those detained in the “war on terror,” including immigrants, minorities, women, and undocumented people;
- Thoroughly and promptly investigate all allegations of torture and abuse in the United States or in United States-controlled prisons, jails, and other detention facilities;
- Immediately end the illegal practice of sending individuals to secret detention centers or to countries known to engage in torture;
- Cease and desist from domestic surveillance of Americans without probable cause and prior judicial authorization;
- Reform the country’s immigration policy and ensure its compliance with human rights standards;
- Limit excessive secrecy in the administration of justice;
- Require states to properly fund and oversee their defense systems for the indigent;
- Repeal laws that condemn women based on their associations rather than their conduct;
- Reduce the overrepresentation of minorities in juvenile detention systems;
- Allow all citizens, regardless of their criminal background, to vote; or, alternatively, require all states to restore the right to vote after a criminal sentence; and,
- Effectively plan for crises such as Hurricane Katrina, including seeking meaningful community participation at all stages.
“Government actions in the post-9/11 era – mistreatment of Muslims and immigrants, secrecy in the administration of justice, erosion of America’s right to privacy, restrictions on assembly rights and freedom of expression – as well as his indifference to the African Americans most devastated by Hurricane Katrina, reveal his nonchalance when it comes to human rights at home,” said Laleh Ispahani, senior policy adviser at the ACLU.
Accompanying the release of the report, ACLU affiliates across the country recognize that human rights begin at home with a day of action in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas. The intention of the day is to educate Americans about their human rights under the ICCPR, to demand accountability for human rights abuses, and to call for the protection and fulfillment of human rights. human rights at the local, state and federal levels. Representatives of these ACLU affiliates will be part of the delegation to Geneva next month.
Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: US Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightsis available online at www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/25924pub20060620.html
The ACLU’s new Human Rights Task Force is dedicated to holding the US government accountable to universally recognized principles of human rights. The Human Rights Working Group is responsible for integrating international human rights strategies into ACLU advocacy on issues relating to national security, immigrant rights, women’s rights and racial justice.