American Civil Liberties Union
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 10, 2006
CONTACT: American Civil Liberties Union
ACLU Urges U.S. Accountability for Human Rights Violations
U.N. Committee Convenes to Evaluate Abysmal U.S. Human Rights Record
NEW YORK - July 10 - The American Civil Liberties Union today charged the U.S.
government with failure to uphold civil and political rights and expressed grave
concerns over serious setbacks in rights protections over the past several
An ACLU delegation arrives this week in Geneva to brief the 18 human
rights experts of the U.N. Human Rights Committee (HRC) and to monitor the
committee's examination of U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a major international human rights treaty
ratified by the U.S. in 1992.
"Respect for universal human rights begins at
home and not though public relations campaigns and programs to promote human
rights overseas," said Jamil Dakwar, an attorney with the ACLU Human Rights
Program. "The commitment of the U.S. to civil and political rights has proven to
be hollow for many American citizens and non-citizens who suffered from U.S.
policies and actions in the United States and abroad."
A U.S. delegation
will appear before the HRC on July 17 and 18 to answer questions about the
implementation of the ICCPR. The session will be based on the official U.S.
report that was submitted last October, more than seven years after it was due.
The U.S. appearance before the committee will be its second since ratification
and the first since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the beginning of the 'global
war on terror.'
In a statement presented at the opening session of the
meeting in Geneva, the ACLU repeated its call to hold the U.S. government
accountable for human rights violations and demanded that the U.S. government
restore respect for cherished civil and political rights particularly those of
minority and vulnerable groups.
"In the last decade, and since the last time
the United States appeared before this committee, we have witnessed serious
setbacks in the protection of civil and political rights within the U.S.," said
the ACLU in its formal statement. "We have also witnessed a backlash against
human rights in the name of national security which has affected large numbers
of persons in the U.S. and abroad."
In June the ACLU submitted a
comprehensive report to the HRC 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 particular 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.
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 religious freedom.
ACLU affiliates across the country
have recognized that human rights begin at home and have embarked on a campaign
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.
illustrate the impact of many of the U.S. policies, the ACLU and the U.S. Human
Rights Network are hosting a panel of victims of U.S. human rights violations in
Geneva on Friday July 14, from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Centre de Conferences
de Varembe (CCV), 9 - 11 Rue de Varambe. The panel will consist of Khalid
El-Masri, a victim of the CIA's policy of "extraordinary rendition;" Father Roy
Bourgeois, who was illegally spied on by the FBI under the guise of a
counter-terrorism investigation; Jessica Gonzales, a victim of domestic violence
whose estranged husband killed her three young daughters after police failed to
enforce a restraining order against him; Marshan Allen, who was incarcerated as
a juvenile and is presently being held for life with no opportunity for parole
(participating via a taped video statement); Reverend Lois Dejean, a resident of
New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina; and Anthony Holmes, a victim of torture at
the hands of the Chicago Police Department (participating via a taped video
The ACLU's new Human Rights Program is dedicated to holding the
U.S. government accountable to universally recognized human rights principles.
The Human Rights Program 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.
The broader ACLU
delegation to the HRC includes Dakwar, Ann Beeson, the ACLU Associate Legal
Director, Chandra Bhatnagar, an attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program,
Laleh Ispahani, Senior Policy Council at the ACLU, Lenora Lapidus, Director of
the ACLU Women's Rights Project, Kary Moss, Executive Director of the ACLU of
Michigan, Gary Weber, Legal Director of the ACLU of Georgia, and Nsombi
Lambright, Executive Director of the ACLU of Mississippi.
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 statement that was presented at the opening session of the HRC is
available online at: www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/26097leg20060710.html