United States: The UN Human Rights Committee criticises the US human rights record
OMCT urges the U.S. Government to implement the Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee
Geneva, July 31, 2006
Geneva – The United Nations Human Rights Committee adopted on July 28 2006, strong Concluding Observations after the consideration of United States report on human rights in the U.S. under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was submitted seven years late.
“This report issued following consideration of the initial U.S. report contained blatant refusal to comply with many of these recommendations and denotes a complete unwillingness to cooperate with the United Nations and more precisely with the Human Rights Committee” said Patrick Mutzenberg from the World Organization Against Torture - OMCT.
During the dialogue with the U.S. Delegation, the Committee sought clarification of various human rights issues, including aspects of the war on terror, minority rights, the death penalty and abuses committed in prison and by police.
Despite the ICCPR’s plain language as well as published opinions of the International Court of Justice and the Committee itself, the U.S. maintains that the ICCPR does not apply during times of war or to persons outside its physical territory. The U.S. Delegation repeatedly stated that the interpretation and jurisprudence of the Committee and the International Court of Justice are not binding on the U.S.
Although the U.S. responded as a “courtesy” to some Committee questions regarding extraterritorial activity, the U.S. failed to address certain serious allegations of violations of Covenant rights, such as secret detention and extraordinary renditions, on the grounds of extraterritorial non-applicability or because the U.S. “does not comment” on alleged intelligence operations.
In its Concluding Observations, the Committee noted that the U.S. provided only limited information regarding implementation of the ICCPR at the state level. The Committee report strongly criticizes the U.S. human rights record. Among its specific recommendations, the Committee has urged the U.S. Government to “immediately abolish all secret detention” and “ensure (…) effective recourse against abuses committed” by the authorities. Moreover the Human Rights Committee was particularly concerned by the fact that Guantánamo detainees are not permitted “to seek review of their treatment or conditions of detention”, which is a patent violation of the ICCPR.
The Human Rights Committee also raised concerns about conditions of detention as well as about the application of the death penalty, which is reportedly “disproportionately imposed on ethnic minorities and low-income population groups” and requested that the US “place a moratorium on capital sentences”.
OMCT urges the U.S. Government to implement the recommendations of the UN Human Rights Committee and recall that already in May 2006, the UN Committee Against Torture already recommended the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facilities.
All States parties to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) are obliged to submit regular reports to the Human Rights Committee on the implementation of the ICCPR’s provisions. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and thereafter at the Committee’s request (usually every four years). The Committee examines each report and addresses its concerns and recommendations to the State party in the form of “Concluding Observations.”
The Human Rights Committee is the body of independent experts that monitors State implementation of the ICCPR. The Committee meets in Geneva or New York and normally holds three sessions per year.
For more information: http://www.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/index.htm
For more information, contact:
Patrick Mutzenberg, OMCT – email: pm ( a ) omct.org or phone: +41 22/809.49.39.