Report: United States Cited for Multiple Human Rights Violations by United Nations

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By Nikki Iyer, Riley Lehren-Chavez and Ebenezer Mamo

GENEVA, CH – The United Nations recently called out the United States for multiple human rights violations, following the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s recent periodic review.

The UN issued an admonishing report, noting the US lack of compliance with the human rights treaty/International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Human rights violations include reproductive, immigrant, indigenous, voting, and LGBTQ rights, with a focus on inequities in the criminal justice system, according to the ACLU.

“While the ICCPR was ratified nearly 30 years ago, the United States has yet to fully comply with the treaty. In fact, in certain areas such as the criminal legal system—the focus of this submission—the United States has grossly violated its obligations and failed to take the appropriate steps to build the domestic infrastructure necessary to fulfill its human rights commitments,” according to the report.

The Committee noted multiple counts of noncompliance, including lacking “significant progress in implementing the treaty on the federal, state, local, and tribal levels, especially the lack of a National Human Rights Institution…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…(not protecting) 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 report acknowledges President Joe Biden’s actions to improve human rights, but argues that the administration has not done enough.

“While the Biden administration has taken some important steps and made policy changes to address the troubling backsliding on human rights done by the Trump administration, there is still much more it can do using executive powers to positively impact federal policy and encourage more human rights-compliant actions at state and local levels,” according to the report.

Similarly, Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program, states that despite the US’s self-proclaimed image to offer freedoms to its citizens, this report demonstrates there is still significant work to do.

“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,” Dakwar said.

Dakwar urges the US to utilize this report as guidance to improve human rights in the nation.

“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,” Dakwar said.

The director continues, 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.

The report suggests that the Biden administration should use these findings to address human rights in the U.S. and ultimately take action.

“As this review is likely to be the last UN human rights review during President Biden ’s first term, it is critical to use the review as a meaningful opportunity for engaging in honest reflection and taking bold action to address U.S. failure to adhere to basic human rights norms and principles,” according to the report.

About The Author

Nikki Iyer is a first-year student at UC Berkeley, passionate about journalism and human rights. As an intern, she aims to help solve injustice in the courts. Down the line, she plans on pursuing a career in media. In her free time, she loves dancing and exploring new cafes.

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