In an Unprecedented No-Show, the U.S. Pulls Out of Planned Human Rights Hearing

The United States has pulled its participation from hearings planned for today by a regional human rights body that has enjoyed the support of every U.S. administration since its founding.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is meeting in Washington, D.C., for a regular session covering human rights issues spanning North and South America. The hearings today are scheduled to cover the Trump administration’s attempt to ban immigration from six predominantly Muslim countries, its immigration enforcement and detention policies, and its approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The ACLU is testifying on Tuesday at hearings that can be livestreamed here.

In the past, when U.S. governments have sought to express displeasure at having their records scrutinized, they have occasionally protested by sending lower-level officials. But today’s refusal to engage the commission at all is a deeply troubling indication of its disrespect for human rights norms and the institutions that oversee their protection.

The IACHR is an independent body of the Organization of American States, which brings together all 35 independent countries in the Americas. The U.S. has long been a champion of the work of the commission. While it has no enforcement mechanisms, its mandate is to promote human rights and examine violations in all OAS member states. The IACHR is often the only venue where victims of egregious human rights violations can seek a measure of recourse in the absence of accountability in their own countries. Survivors of the U.S. post-9/11 torture program have appealed to it, and even the Bush administration defended its policies before the IACHR.

The United States’ record isn’t the only one under scrutiny during this session. In the last several days, the commission has heard extensive testimony on the human rights situation in Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Chile, Bolivia, Guatemala, and Nicaragua, with additional countries to face review today and tomorrow.

After word of the U.S. absence spread, the State Department responded by stating that “it is not appropriate for the United States to participate in these hearings while litigation on these matters is ongoing in U.S. courts,” in reference to lawsuits against the government’s Muslim ban. But that doesn’t explain why it wouldn’t attend another hearing regarding a Japanese-Peruvian man who was rounded up with thousands of other Latin Americans, deported to a World War II-era internment camp, and denied redress to this day. It also doesn't explain why the Bush and Obama administrations appeared before the commission for hearings on CIA torture, Guantánamo, immigration detention, and prison issues, even though there was pending litigation at the time.

The Trump administration’s refusal to engage with an independent human rights body, which has played a historic role in fighting impunity and barbaric military dictatorships in the region, sets a dangerous precedent that mirrors the behavior of authoritarian regimes and will only serve to embolden them. It is a worrying sign that the administration, which has also said it would review future engagement with the U.N. Human Rights Council, is not only launching an assault on human rights at home. Rather it’s upping the ante and weakening the institutions that hold abusive governments accountable.

Let’s hope the no-show is temporary, and not a sign of what’s to come.

This post has been updated to reflect the State Department's response. 

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Winterhawk

In the beginning while the sperm was swimming up the oviducts it got lost and it too long to reach the egg which caused the severe brain damage this anonymous guy suffer from today.

Saras

Anonymous is likely a Russian operative. Breaking news tonight about "Bernie Sanders Lovers" and many other sites were used by Russian bots and trolls as a front to propagate anti Clinton anti American agenda. When you see these people or boys report and ignore.

Anonymous

They are a no-show, as they are disgruntled. They feel that "corporations are people too!" Corporations have suffered much more than WE THE PEOPLE! Shame on the GOP!

Veronica

Trump ignored state supported human rights abuses of Indigenous Water Protectors and their allies at DAPL. In spite of his investment conflicts around
DAPL he has pushed the project forward. I am sure he does not want to be questioned about this spurious behavior at such a prestigious international body.

Meri Haydon-Toney

Who do we address our concerns to? What person or organization is responsible for choosing and sending representatives? This isn't giving us tools to work with.

Anonyjoymous

I find this to be the scariest news yet....we're all gonna die faster than we thought I'm afraid...maybe there is a giant comet coming as these rich fucks are buying the only rides off world that are availbe right now! Good luck Barron...remember u don't have to listen to your dad either!

Kenneth Henry Deome

We're not Wealthy.

Therefore we're not Human.

So we have no right to Civil Rights or Human Rights.

(Originally posted on Twitter)

Also Concerned

Who in the Administration was supposed to be at the meetings?
What Department in the current government is responsible for the human rights issues?
Who and what Dept. have attended from previous Admins?
Can the ACLU provide enough info for us to get active on this?

Anonymous

Laura, you said it so well. And, you are absolutely right - can't go on. There is a new tool - Resistbot - for messaging the representatives. Look into this - I know you need a number after your put in the word resist, to identify the issue you are writing about. Takes seconds to do. They need to hear what you are saying!

Elizabeth

Thank you for mentioning ResistBot! I hadn't heard of it before and just signed up!!! :o)

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