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U.S. Human Rights Advocates Respond to U.N. Human Rights Committee’s Report on US ICCPR Review
Concluding Observations come two weeks after the Committee’s review of the United States’ human rights record in Geneva
For Immediate Release
March 27, 2014
Atlanta, GA – Today U.S. human rights advocates are responding to the newly-released list of concluding observations by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, following its review of the United States’ human rights record on March 13 and 14.
The review scrutinized the United States failure to comply with its legal obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty the US ratified in 1992. The primary focus of the review was on a series of questions put together by the Committee and informed largely by members of the US Human Rights Network, which has been advocating for full implementation of the treaty at the federal, state and local levels.
“We welcome the UN Human Rights Committee's recommendation that the US ensure effective remedies for violations under the ICCPR and to take steps to bring U.S. domestic law in line with its human rights obligations,” said Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (USHRN). “We urge the Administration to follow up on the recommendations by the Committee which make clear that the US has significant work to do to fully comply with its human rights obligations in a broad range of issues including racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, gun violence, excessive use of force by law enforcement in communities of color and on the border, access to healthcare for immigrants, criminalization of the homeless, and forced psychiatric treatment.”
The USHRN-led ICCPR Task Force served as lead coordinator of the U.S. delegation to Geneva, which included human and civil rights organizations, activists, and everyday citizens who have suffered -- or are presently suffering – from the devastating effects of unchecked human rights abuses. Their core mission was to underscore the United States’ failure to create an infrastructure for monitoring, tracking, and addressing human rights violations in an urgent and efficient manner, and to seek meaningful reforms and solutions to address ICCPR violations at the local, state and national level.
While certain key issues were not covered in the concluding observations, the list is overall a strong reflection of the important work being done by human rights defenders across the country, including those who sent in reports in advance of the ICCPR review to inform the committee of critical rights violations across the country.
"The committee’s recommendations highlight the gaps between U.S. human rights obligations and current laws and practices,” Said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program and Co-Chair of the ICCPR Task Force. “The Committee rightly called out the United States for setting dangerous examples from counterterrorism operations to an unfair criminal justice system to inhumane treatment of migrants. President Obama now has an opportunity to reverse course and reshape his human rights legacy by taking concrete actions like declassifying the Senate report on CIA torture, and ending dragnet surveillance and unlawful targeted killings."
Notably the U.N.’s observations includes the human rights implications of gun violence, which many members of the U.S. civil society delegation to Geneva were advocating for. The Human Rights Committee has identified four issues, including gun violence, to be followed up on within a year to evaluate any steps taken by the federal government to implement policy changes that would address these issues.
“The Dream Defenders and the people of Florida and the U.S. are welcoming of the statements and support of the committee members,” said Ahmad Abuznaid, Legal and Policy Director for Dream Defenders. “We are hopeful that our own officials in Florida and the U.S. will follow the lead and take action on this life or death issue."
For more information about the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) visit here.
ABOUT THE US HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK (USHRN)
The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) 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. It is a network of over 250 organizational members that is working to popularize human rights in communities across the United States in order to secure dignity and justice for all.