Testimonies of Human Rights at Home - Documenting Injustice in the United States

May 8, 2015

“With these [human rights] hearings and the report  - Testimonies of Human Rights at Home: Documenting Injustice in the United States - we want to raise awareness about human rights concerns and violations that are under the radar. We are sharing one another’s stories and building our collective voice and power. This is human rights movement building—people coming together to talk about rights being violated and how to get justice.”  –Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network

In 2012 and 2014-2015, the USHRN held human rights tours, hearings, and trainings in partnership with local organizations in five locations across the United States: Detroit in 2012; Gallup and Albuquerque, NM, Phoenix, AZ, New Orleans, LA in 2014 and McAllen, TX in 2015. These cities were chosen in part because they represent different regions across the United States that all have high rates of poverty, and the hearings were able to bring communities together to support families and children living in poverty and uphold and advance their human rights.

This report shows that because there is a systematic lack of enforcement structures across the United States we lack a strong human rights regime. The result is that we end up with similar rights violations time and time again across the United States from policies and practices that particularly effect the most vulnerable. The systemic issues covered in the report - violence and harassment; abuse of power by police - targeting of black and brown communities, immigrant communities, and transgender people; environmental racism and access to basic utilities; and access to reproductive health - all stem from the lack of enforcement structures and accountability mechanisms at both the state and local levels to protect human rights in the United States.

These hearings gave community members opportunities to share their lived experiences and to place them within the context of a larger human rights movement in the United States, thus helping build our collective voice and power for justice and human rights.

In order to advance the enjoyment of the full spectrum of human rights in the United States, USHRN makes the following recommendations:

  1. The U.S. Government should authorize an independent National Human Rights Institution to institutionalize and expand the mandate and effective use of the Equality Working Group as a federal focal point for coordination and implementation of human rights obligations.
  2. The federal government should adopt a National Plan of Action for Racial Justice to address systemic forms of racial discrimination.
  3. The U.S. Government should comprehensively coordinate and advance implementation of ICCPR, CERD, and CAT and the recent concluding observations from 2014 of each of the related treaty body committees at all levels of U.S. Government, as well as the 2011 UPR recommendations.
  4. The U.S. Government should take a strong position in favor of economic, social, and cultural rights in recognizing these rights as key human rights that make up the full spectrum of human rights in the United States.
  5. The U.S. government should ratify without any reservations, understandings, or declarations (RUDs) the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), as well as the: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.
  6. The U.S. Government should implement all resolutions adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council, the findings of Commissions of Inquiry, special procedures, and the Universal Periodic Review related to human rights in the United States.

Share the report! #HumanRightsAtHome #DocumentingInjustice

Sarah Tofte and Rebecca Landy
Publication Date: 
May 11, 2015
Human Rights Hearings Report