On Human Rights Day, ACLU Calls For U.S. Commitment To Domestic Human Rights

December 10, 2009 1:30 pm

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Obama Administration Must Lead By Example And Take Bold Actions At Home

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NEW YORK – On the 61st anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union called on the Obama administration to demonstrate its leadership at home and abroad by bringing the U.S. into compliance with international human rights standards.

“For eight years, too many people suffered as the United States’ human rights record crumbled under the Bush administration,” said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. “President Obama must make it clear that human dignity is of paramount importance and that accountability for human rights is a U.S. national interest.”

Since President Obama’s inauguration, the U.S. has repudiated the use of torture and secret detention and pledged to close the military prison in Guantánamo. The U.S. has also joined the U.N. Human Rights Council and signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). While these are all positive steps, much more is needed in order to bring the U.S. into compliance with international human rights law.

The U.S. is one of a handful of nations that has not yet ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and stands alone with Somalia in failing to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Practices such as racial profiling, the maltreatment and prosecution of former child soldiers in military commissions, the sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without parole, the failure to investigate acts of torture committed by the Bush administration and the dramatic increase in the abusive detention of immigrants are other areas in need of much improvement in order to regain the United States’ human rights reputation.

“The Obama administration must hold the U.S. accountable to international human rights standards, as well as uphold its stated commitment to transparency by addressing policies that have fallen short of those standards,” said Dakwar. “President Obama’s commitment to human rights must be translated from rhetoric to reality.”

The ACLU, together with the Campaign for a New Human Rights Agenda, has called for the implementation and enforcement of ratified human rights treaties through a new and enhanced executive order and the resurrection of a more effective Interagency Working Group on Human Rights – disbanded during the Bush administration – to coordinate and promote human rights within domestic policy.

“The Obama administration has an opportunity to uphold the American values of fairness and justice for all by building a much-needed human rights infrastructure,” added Dakwar.

For more on the ACLU Human Rights Program, please visit: www.aclu.org/human-rights

For more information on the Campaign for a New Human Rights Agenda, please visit: www.ushrnetwork.org/new_domestic_human_rights

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