July 18, 2006

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

ACLU Encouraged by U.N. Questioning of U.S. Government

VIDEO

> Watch video of the testimonies

WITNESS STATEMENTS
> Father Roy Bourgeois
> Jessica Gonzales
> Khaled El-Masri

MORE
> ACLU Statement to 87th Session of United Nations Human Rights Committee
> Illegal FBI / JTTF Spying
> Town of Castle Rock v. Gonzales
> Extraordinary Rendition
> Dimming the Beacon of Freedom (Report to ICCPR)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND — A United Nations human rights body expressed grave concerns today about the record of human rights in the United States.  The American Civil Liberties Union with a delegation of 10 and working with a broad coalition of other groups is in Geneva to monitor the examination of the United States the U.N. Human Rights Committee (HRC).

In a two-day session that concluded today, the committee members pressured the United States for answers on the following issues:

  • The sentencing of children to life without parole and the disproportionate incarceration of minorities;
  • The militarization of the border;
  • The failure to prevent human rights violations and respond in a non discriminatory manner to Hurricane Katrina;
  • The failure to end racial profiling practices, specifically the profiling of South Asian convenience store employees in Georgia;
  • Warrantless spying on ordinary Americans;
  • The abuse of women in prison; and
  • The indefinite detention, rendition and torture of non-citizens.

“The U.S. should be ashamed of itself,” said Ann Beeson, Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program. “The review by the Human Rights Committee was a stark and all too accurate condemnation of the state of rights in America.”

During the questioning, several committee members took the time to make observations about the government's report.  Rajsoomer Lalah, from Mauritius, suggested that the NSA spying program was "creating a state of siege."  Sir Nigel Rodley, from the United Kingdom, expressed "astonishment" and "dismay" over reports of detention and torture by the U.S. government.  Hipolito Solari Yrigoyen, from Argentina, asked about the "militarization" of the U.S. border with Mexico, whether National Guard members sent to patrol the border would be trained to respect human rights and what the government intends to do with the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States.

The HRC’s review is based on the official U.S. report that was submitted last October, more than seven years after it was due. The United States’ appearance before the committee is its second since ratification and the first since the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the beginning of the "global war on terror."

The ACLU’s Shadow Report to the HRC, Dimming the Beacon of Freedom: U.S. Violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is available online at www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/25924pub20060620.html

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