United Nations Human Rights Body Calls Out U.S. Failure to Comply with Civil and Political Rights Treaty

November 3, 2023 12:23 pm

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GENEVA — The United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a scathing report today castigating the United States’ record on a wide range of issues, including Indigenous rights, voting rights, freedom of expression and assembly, reproductive rights, criminal legal system, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, privacy, and more.

The “Concluding Observations” from the Committee are the result of its periodic review, which took place in Geneva last month, of U.S. compliance with a major human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which the United States ratified in 1992. While the Committee noted and welcomed several important steps taken by the Biden administration over the past three years, the Committee found that the U.S. was out of compliance on several human rights issues, including:

  • Lack of significant progress in implementing the treaty on the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, especially the lack of a National Human Rights Institution;
  • Lack of significant progress in addressing serious rights violations in the criminal legal system, including harsh and racial disparities in sentencing, use of police violence, the death penalty, and use of solitary confinement;
  • Lack of protection to Indigenous lands and sacred sites and restrictive interpretation of the principle of free, prior, and informed consent; and
  • Serious violations of voting rights including voter suppression and partisan gerrymandering and felon disenfranchisement laws.

“The United States touts itself as a beacon of democracy and human rights, yet the Committee’s findings prove that this could not be further from the truth, underscoring the critical need to prioritize and strengthen human rights at home and establish a National Human Rights Institution to ensure that our most basic rights are protected,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program. “It is critical that the U.S. government take this opportunity to heed the United Nations’ recommendations and deliver on behalf of the American people — including immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, women and girls, LGBTQ+ people, incarcerated people, Indigenous people, and other marginalized communities that are disproportionately impacted by the government’s continued violations.”

The Committee’s report comes weeks after the ACLU joined more than 140 representatives of U.S. civil society organizations in Geneva and urged the U.N. Committee to hold the U.S. government accountable for laws, policies and practices that violate the treaty. Guided by input from participating civil society organizations, U.N. committee members questioned U.S. federal, state, and local government officials on a myriad of human rights issues including Indigenous rights, voting rights, freedom of expression, reproductive rights, criminal legal system, immigrants’ rights, LGBTQ rights, and more.

“The U.S. government must not wait eight more years to respond to the Committee’s recommendations. It must adopt a plan of action and concrete measures to address the large-scale rights violations identified by the Committee, which cause harm to millions of people in the U.S. and those under its jurisdiction or those impacted globally by its actions and policies,” added Dakwar.

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