March 18, 2011, New York and Geneva – Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) issued a report on the formal adoption of the United States’ Report at the United Nations Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, which brought the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United States to a close. As part of the review process, CCR authored or contributed to five NGO reports on the human rights failures and abuses of the United States, on issues ranging from racial profiling to the lack of accountability following extrajudicial killings and torture committed by private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“While the U.S. government’s formal engagement with the international human rights regime is a critical step forward from previous administrations,” CCR stated in its report, “the response offered in March 2011 presents a distorted and incomplete accounting of the U.S. human rights record, either omitting or glossing over many critical human rights violations or concerns, and demonstrates that the Obama administration is unwilling to meaningfully embrace a human rights framework.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights report continued, “CCR urges the Obama administration to move from rhetoric to action, and to take concrete steps towards complying with its full international human rights obligations. In particular, the U.S. is failing to meet its obligations regarding accountability for serious international law violations, the closure of Guantánamo, ending unlawful targeted killings, isolating political activists and Muslims in prisons, and ending the practice of racial profiling by local law enforcement.”
“Contrary to assertions by the U.S. that it supports the ‘vigorous investigation and prosecution of any serious violations of international law,’ the United States has utterly failed to seek or promote accountability for the widespread human rights violations, including torture, committed by high-level U.S. officials, particularly in U.S.-run detention centers including at Guantánamo, in Iraq and at ‘black sites’ across the globe,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher. “The U.S. has further allowed serious international law violations by private military contractors to go unpunished and has not taken the steps necessary to ensure redress for victims of human rights violations, whether committed by U.S. officials or by transnational corporations.”
“While the U.S. is being praised for its engagement with the UPR process, it is quietly continuing to operate experimental prison units designed to isolate Muslim prisoners and political prisoners,” said CCR Education and Outreach Associate Nahal Zamani. “Further, while the government speaks of the unconstitutionality of racial profiling – though neglecting to mention that the New York Police Department also continues to stop-and-frisk Black and Latino New Yorkers at disproportionately higher rates and without legitimate cause – it continues to implement programs like Secure Communities, despite serious apprehension shared by affected communities, law enforcement agencies and local legislators, and legitimate criticism by leading human rights experts and bodies of this program that forces local law enforcement to do the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”
The United States’ compliance with its international human rights obligations – as required under the U.S. Constitution – under the Convention Against Torture, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other human rights treaties to which the United States is a party, was reviewed for the first time in November 2010 as part of the Universal Periodic Review process, under which 47 other U.N. member states were appointed to review the United States. The peer review process was established to evaluate the compliance of all 192 U.N. member states with their human rights obligations and commitments, and to identify progress, shortcomings and areas for improvement. Countries are reviewed every four years.
To read the full text of the Center for Constitutional Rights report as well as a selection of the reports submitted to the UN by CCR and other organizations, visit CCR’s UPR page here.