The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;

ACLU Welcomes First-Ever U.S. Report to U.N. Human Rights Council

Group Calls For Reform to Address Human Rights Violations


U.S. government today submitted its first-ever Universal Periodic
Review (UPR) report to the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC). As part of
the UPR process, nations report to the HRC on their efforts to
strengthen human rights commitments and comply with international human
rights standards. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomed the U.S.
participation in the UPR process as an important step toward turning the
Obama administration's stated commitment to protecting human rights
into tangible policies. However, the group said the report omits many
issues that need significant improvement and doesn't present a full
picture of the state of human rights in the U.S. The ACLU called on the
Obama administration to address existing human rights violations and
urged policy reform in order to comply with U.S. human rights

"While this report demonstrates the
Obama administration's willingness to recommit to engagement on
international human rights, the administration must now prove that it is
prepared to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk," said Jamil
Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. "It is time for the
U.S. to match its human rights rhetoric with concrete domestic policies
and actions and create a human rights culture and infrastructure that
promote American values of equality and justice for all."

According to the ACLU, the U.S.
report correctly acknowledges the need for improvement in several key
areas, including racial justice, women's rights, LGBT rights and
discrimination against Muslims and Americans of South Asian and Arab
descent. However, the report neglects to address other key areas where
the U.S. has failed to meet its human rights obligations, including
felon disfranchisement, inhumane prison conditions, racial disparities
in the death penalty system and deaths and abuse in immigration
detention. The report also defends the use of military commissions to
try terrorism suspects, despite the fact that military commissions pose
significant human and civil rights violations.

"The UPR process provides an
opportunity for the United States to identify human rights violations,
develop real solutions and bring our policies in line with international
human rights standards," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU
Washington Legislative Office. "There is no better time to reflect
honestly and exhaustively on our country's human rights record and to
find a path forward toward correcting our faults. The administration
should continue to work with all relevant federal agencies and Congress
until we can safely say the U.S. is beyond reproach when it comes to
human rights."

As part of the UPR process, U.S.
officials from various federal departments and agencies including the
Departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security, Education and Health
and Human Services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the
Environmental Protection Agency and the White House met earlier this
year with human rights advocates, including representatives of several
ACLU offices across the country, to identify and address the nation's
most pressing, ongoing human rights issues.

The ACLU also submitted a report on
the state of human rights in the U.S. to the HRC in April 2010. The
report, which focused on access to justice for all people and the lack
of effective remedies for human rights violations, is available online

The UNHRC will review the U.S. report in November.

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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