CAT Concluding Observations Press Release

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UN FINDS U.S. GOVERNMENT IN VIOLATION OF GLOBAL ANTI-TORTURE TREATY

Issues list of concluding observations from the Nov. 12 & 13 Torture Review

New York, NY -- November 28, 2014 – Today, the United Nations Committee Against Torture released the official list of Concluding Observations from its review of the U.S.’ torture record. The review took place on November 12 and 13 in Geneva and was informed by over 70 civil society delegates coordinated by the US Human Rights Network. Among many concerns, the Committee’s Concluding Observations call for U.S. government officials to address a range of issues including police brutality, the use of Tasers, sexual violence in the military, the use of prison-like immigrant detention facilities, and the continued holding of individuals without charge at Guantanamo Bay detention facilities. The Committee reminded the U.S. Government that there are “no exceptional circumstances” that can be used to justify torture including threat of war or terrorist acts, threat of violent crime, internal political instability or any other public emergency.

Notably, the Committee also expressed “deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.”

The Concluding Observations come at the end of a highly-charged week, in which the long-awaited grand jury decision over whether to indict Officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting 18-year-old Michael Brown was finally announced, with justice once again left unserved. Just two weeks earlier, the parents of Michael Brown offered their own personal and emotional testimony before the UN Committee, describing how the persistent killing of people of color is torturous.  Despite this testimony and the testimony of more than 70 other human rights activists, the U.S. Government delegation in Geneva failed to offer a plan on how to address and combat the use of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“The recommendations issued by the UN Committee Against Torture re-affirm what we in the human rights community have long-known and refuse to ignore: that the U.S. government continues to demonstrate insufficient urgency or concern around the use of torture against everyday people here and in U.S. territories around the world,” said Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN). “With the devastating injustice that took place in Ferguson this week as well as the police-involved shooting deaths of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Akai Gurley in Brooklyn, NY, it is critical that we continue to put pressure on our elected officials at every level of government, and hold them accountable for upholding the same human rights standards that they expect other nations and governments to uphold.”

According to CAT, torture includes any acts “committed by a public official, law enforcement or other government entity that causes severe pain or suffering in order to punish the person for an act s/he has committed or is suspected to have committed, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind.” Despite accepting CAT into law in 1994 and voicing opposition when other countries employ torture, U.S. officials have failed to commit to a policy agenda that would address or prevent the use of torture against people under the U.S.’ jurisdiction within and outside the U.S.

To read the U.N.’s Concluding Observations in full, please visit: http://www.ushrnetwork.org/sites/ushrnetwork.org/files/cat_us_concluding_observations_2014.pdf. You can also find out more about the Convention Against Torture at http://www.ushrnetwork.org/our-work/project/cat-convention-against-torture.

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ABOUT THE US HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK

The US Human Rights Network is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. We work to secure dignity and justice for all.