ACLU Welcomes U.N. Independent Expert On Extrajudicial Executions To U.S.

June 16, 2008

Mission Includes Studying Deaths In U.S.-Run Detention Facilities At Home And Abroad

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union today welcomed a fact-finding mission to the U.S. by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston's mission includes reporting on alleged killings in the U.S. and overseas for which U.S. government and military officials may be responsible, and the failure to prosecute and punish those responsible. The ACLU calls on the U.S., state and local governments to fully cooperate with the special rapporteur.

“The visit of the special rapporteur is a critical opportunity to shine an international spotlight on the pervasive problem of impunity and lack of accountability for deaths in U.S.-run prisons and detention facilities at home and abroad,” said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. “To claim the high moral ground and assert leadership on the issue of human rights, the U.S. must do more to prevent deaths in custody and prosecute those who are responsible for inhuman and cruel treatment of detainees in U.S. custody.”

At the invitation of the U.S. government, Special Rapporteur Alston, who is a professor at New York University School of Law, will tour the U.S. from June 16 to 30. The special rapporteur will visit the cities of Washington, New York, Montgomery, Alabama and Austin, Texas, where he will meet with federal and local government officials and representatives of several non-governmental organizations. He will submit a final report on his findings and recommendations at a forthcoming meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Alston will examine deaths in U.S. prisons and immigration detention facilitates. He will also study reports of alleged killings in the U.S. and overseas for which U.S. government and military officials may be responsible, including alleged killings and deaths in U.S. custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Alston will also investigate due process violations in the administration of the death penalty, including in cases being tried under the Military Commissions Act.
 
At the conclusion of his tour, the special rapporteur will hold a press conference on June 30, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. EDT at the United Nations in New York.

Earlier this month, the ACLU submitted a related report, “Capital Punishment in the United States,” to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. That report is available online at: www.aclu.org/capital/general/35665res20080530.html

In May 2008, the ACLU welcomed the introduction of H.R. 5950, the Detainee Basic Medical Care Act of 2008, by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and the companion bill S.R. 3005, sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). This legislation requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to develop procedures to ensure adequate medical care for all detainees held by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The legislation also requires ICE to report detainee deaths to the DHS and Department of Justice Offices of Inspector General.

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