On Human Rights Day, ACLU Calls for US Commitment to Domestic Human Rights

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Robyn Shepherd, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; media@aclu.org

On Human Rights Day, ACLU Calls for US Commitment to Domestic Human Rights

Obama Administration Must Lead by Example and Take Bold Actions at Home

NEW YORK - On
the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union called
on the Obama administration to demonstrate its leadership at home and
abroad by bringing the U.S. into compliance with international human
rights standards.

"For eight years, too many people
suffered as the United States' human rights record crumbled under the
Bush administration," said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human
Rights Program. "President Obama must make it clear that human dignity
is of paramount importance and that accountability for human rights is
a U.S. national interest."

Since President Obama's
inauguration, the U.S. has repudiated the use of torture and secret
detention and pledged to close the military prison in Guantánamo. The
U.S. has also joined the U.N. Human Rights Council and signed the
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). While
these are all positive steps, much more is needed in order to bring the
U.S. into compliance with international human rights law.

The U.S. is one of a handful of
nations that has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of
All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and stands alone
with Somalia in failing to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the
Child (CRC). Practices such as racial profiling, the maltreatment and
prosecution of former child soldiers in military commissions, the
sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without parole, the failure
to investigate acts of torture committed by the Bush administration and
the dramatic increase in the abusive detention of immigrants are other
areas in need of much improvement in order to regain the United States'
human rights reputation.

"The Obama administration must hold
the U.S. accountable to international human rights standards, as well
as uphold its stated commitment to transparency by addressing policies
that have fallen short of those standards," said Dakwar. "President
Obama's commitment to human rights must be translated from rhetoric to
reality."

The ACLU, together with the Campaign
for a New Human Rights Agenda, has called for the implementation and
enforcement of ratified human rights treaties through a new and
enhanced executive order and the resurrection of a more effective
Interagency Working Group on Human Rights - disbanded during the Bush
administration - to coordinate and promote human rights within domestic
policy.

"The Obama administration has an
opportunity to uphold the American values of fairness and justice for
all by building a much-needed human rights infrastructure," added
Dakwar.
 
For more on the ACLU Human Rights Program, please visit: www.aclu.org/human-rights 

For more information on the Campaign for a New Human Rights Agenda, please visit: www.ushrnetwork.org/new_domestic_human_rights

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) conserves America's original civic values working in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in the United States by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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