NEW YORK - June 20 - The American
Civil Liberties Union today released a report to the U.N. Human Rights Committee
condemning the U.S. government for failing to comply with its treaty obligations
to protect and preserve a range of human rights protections at home and abroad.
Drawing attention to some of the most vulnerable members of society, including
women, children, minorities, immigrants and the accused, the ACLU offered
detailed recommendations to bring the U.S. in line with universally recognized
human rights standards.
"America should be a beacon of freedom throughout 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: U.S. Violations of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, documents the U.S. record on human rights in five areas:
national security, women's rights, racial justice, immigrants rights and
The Human Rights Committee is the U.N. body of experts
charged with monitoring countries compliance with the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the primary human rights treaty. The United
States ratified the treaty in 1992. The committee will review the official
submission of the U.S. government on July 17 and 18 in Geneva. The ACLU will
send a delegation to present the report and monitor the proceedings.
the Beacon of Freedom provides a detailed description of human rights violations
in the United States. In addition to the impact of these rights violations on
other vulnerable groups in the U.S., the report highlights how in the wake on
September 11, 2001, Arabs, Muslims and South Asians, and to some extent all
immigrants, were victims of discriminatory targeting by the government. It draws
attention to the erosion of the right to privacy, discussing expanded
surveillance and the government's growing use of the states secret privilege to
avoid accountability for abuses.
The ACLU recommendations urge the United
"The government's actions in the post- 9/11 period -
ill-treatment of Muslims and immigrants, secrecy in the administration of
justice, erosion of American's right to privacy, restrictions on rights of
assembly and freedom of expression -- as well as its indifference to the African
Americans most devastated by Hurricane Katrina, reveal its nonchalance where
human rights at home are concerned," said Laleh Ispahani, Senior Policy Counsel
at the ACLU.
- Ensure that federal judicial remedies are available to all
persons detained in the "war on terror," including immigrants, minorities, women
and undocumented persons;
- Thoroughly and promptly investigate all
allegations of torture and abuse in the U.S. or U.S.-controlled prisons, jails
and other detention facilities;
- Immediately end the illegal practice of
rendering individuals to secret detention facilities or to countries known to
participate in torture;
- Cease and desist domestic surveillance of Americans
without probable cause and prior judicial approval;
- Reform the nation's
immigration policy and ensure its compliance with human rights
- Curtail the excessive secrecy in the administration of
- Require states to properly fund and supervise their indigent defense
- Repeal laws that convict women based on who they associate with
rather than their conduct;
- Reduce minority over-representation in juvenile
- Allow all citizens, regardless of their criminal history,
to vote; or, as an alternative, require all states to restore voting rights upon
completion of a criminal sentence; and,
- Effectively plan for crises such as
Hurricane Katrina, including seeking meaningful participation from the community
at all stages.
Accompanying the release of the report, ACLU affiliates across
the country are recognizing that human rights begin at home with a day of action
in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Michigan and Texas. The intent of the day is
to educate Americans about their human rights under the ICCPR, to demand U.S.
accountability for human rights violations, and to call for the protection and
realization of human rights on the local, state and federal level.
Representatives from these ACLU affiliates will be part of the delegation
traveling to Geneva next month.
Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: U.S.
Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is
available online at www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/25924pub20060620.html
ACLU's new Human Rights Working Group is dedicated to holding the U.S.
government accountable to universally recognized human rights principles. The
Human Rights Working Group is charged with incorporating international human
rights strategies into ACLU advocacy on issues relating to national security,
immigrants' rights, women's rights and racial justice.