Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The emperor's no clothes

The United States was forced to submit its human rights record to the scrutiny of the other 192 members of the United Nations.

“The United States continues to violate human rights in the name of national security and it needs to roll back these policies and bring them in line with the U.S. constitution and international law,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the Human Rights Program (HRP) of the American Civil Liberties Union,

One of the demands set forth by the 117 states taking part in the debate was for Washington to take measures to prevent acts of torture in areas outside the national territory under its effective control and prosecute perpetrators, and to ensure that victims of torture were afforded redress and assistance. With respect to torture, among the positive achievements mentioned was the release of a report on abuses committed as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) interrogation practices. Another of the main recommendations to the United States is that it desist from targeted killings through drones. The United Kingdom congratulated the United States on its commitment to close Guantanamo, announced in January 2009 but said they would like to see it actually happen.

The US is not currently considering the ratification of the Rome Statute, which created the International Criminal Court.

Ejim Dike, executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, said the concerns brought to the attention of the U.S. delegation revolved around issues of poverty, criminalisation and violence. “In the United States we have more money today than we ever had. We have the highest child poverty rate of any industrialised country.”

The Cuban delegates addressed the issue, urging the United States to guarantee the right of all residents to decent housing, food, healthcare and education, in order to reduce the poverty that affects 48 million of the country’s 319 million people.

The United States was asked to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in effect since 1976 and considered one of the pillars of the U.N. human rights system. Nor has the United States ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child,  the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women or the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The USA has not recognised the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, or the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) conventions on forced labour, minimum age for admission to employment, domestic workers, and discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Dakwar highlighted, “the issue of the lack of a fair criminal justice system that is being demonstrated through the stops and frisks, racial profiling, racial studies in the death penalty. You see it in the police violence and killing of unarmed African-Americans with no accountability.” He continued, “Its inhuman and unfair system of immigration needs to again be brought in line with human rights…That means…no detention of migrants, and ending migrants’ family detention,” and then he added, “The United States continues to violate human rights in the name of national security and it needs to roll back these policies and bring them in line with the U.S. constitution and international law.”

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