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A Year in Human Rights Achievements

Nahal Zamani,
Human Rights Program
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December 31, 2009

Since 2004, the ACLU Human Rights Program (along with other ACLU national projects, our legislative office in D.C. and affiliate offices across the country) has worked to ensure that the U.S. government complies with its international human rights obligations and commitments.

The ACLU Human Rights Program turned five earlier in 2009. To mark the occasion, we thought we’d share with you just a few of our accomplishments from this past year.

Just this month, a panel of 11 judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard the government’s appeal of an earlier ruling in April that allowed our lawsuit on behalf of rendition victims against Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen DataPlan, Inc. to proceed. We’re also part of a class action lawsuit on behalf of workers trafficked to the U.S. from India to work in shipyards after Hurricane Katrina.

This summer, we highlighted serious human rights violations here in the U.S. in three reports. Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity documented the negative effect of U.S. government actions on American Muslims’ exercise of their right to profess and practice their religion through charitable giving. The Persistence of Racial And Ethnic Profiling in the United States, released in conjunction with the Rights Working Group, detailed how the practice of racial profiling by members of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels remains a widespread problem throughout the U.S. Lastly, Impairing Education, released jointly with Human Rights Watch, found that students with disabilities face corporal punishment in public schools at disproportionately high rates.

Over the last year, the ACLU Human Rights Program continued to lead ACLU advocacy before international human rights bodies on behalf of victims of human rights violations, including representing a domestic violence victim in a landmark petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and submitting a short report to the U.N. Minority Forum on the voting rights of minority and indigenous communities in the U.S.

We’ve called for a commitment to international human rights treaties. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we pulled together resources and wrote about the ACLU’s dedicated work on behalf of children’s rights. We encouraged the U.S. to finally ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Further, on Human Rights Day this month, we called for a U.S. commitment to domestic human rights.

Our call didn’t end there. This month, we prepared a written statement for a historic congressional hearing on international human rights treaty implementation. Additionally, we have demonstrated leadership within the Campaign for a New Domestic Human Rights Agenda in advocating for human rights leadership here at home by calling for our national, state and local governments to engage with human rights.

The ACLU will continue to call on the Obama administration and Congress to prioritize human rights at home, so that during the next decade the U.S. will truly lead by example on human rights.

As always, you can consult to learn more about the breadth of our work.

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