Human rights groups tell US to clean up own house

While this is not a recent report, with all that is happening today, I thought it appropriate to resend it. Note the comment about "unchallenged police brutality ".

Dean Ruby

By Peter Capella in Geneva

GUARDIAN (London)Tuesday April 13, 1999

Human rights groups, led by Amnesty International, have made an
unprecedented appeal to the United Nations Human Rights Commission to take action against abuses in the United States amid mounting irritation at a lack of US co-operation with international human rights institutions.

The appeal, launched during the 53-member commission's annual meeting, is part of a campaign by Amnesty to highlight an apparent US failure to comply with international standards which Washington helped create - and by which it judges other countries.

'When we use those standards, then clearly the US is failing that test
daily,' Pierre Sane, the head of Amnesty International, said. 'Amnesty International is not putting the USA in the same league as China; it is the USA which is putting itself in that league.'

Human rights groups cite a consistent pattern of violations 'that disproportionately affect racial minorities' in the US; unchallenged
police brutality; treatment of asylum seekers; prison conditions; and
the death penalty.

The appeal is likely to have little effect because other commission members traditionally shy away from formal action against specific countries. But Mr Sane's stance may improve Amnesty's standing among Asian and African countries, which accuse the organisation of being pro-Western.

UN committees and investigators that check compliance with human rights legislation have complained of a lack of US co-operation. The country is up to six years late in responding to queries about torture and other alleged violations.

In a report on freedom of expression in the US submitted to the UN
commission, Abdlefattah Amor, a special rapporteur, complained that for the first time since he was appointed and embarked on a series of missions (China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Sudan, Greece, Australia, Germany), he came up against a series of obstacles the aim of which was to get his mission put off.

Mr Amor said the obstacles were created by UN officials, apparently
acting 'either on their own initiative or in defence of state interests'.

Mr Sane said: 'We think the United States is shooting itself in the foot and is fast losing credibility. Amnesty is doing nothing more than holding a mirror.'

The US Congress has not ratified international treaties aimed at eliminating discrimination against women, or providing for economic and social rights. It is the only country, other than Somalia, that has not adopted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Washington has also imposed reservations on human rights treaties that it has ratified - notably to stop US citizens making direct complaint at an international level.

Britain and other European countries are preparing a resolution against the death penalty which is understood to criticise US practice without mentioning the country by name.

The US is the only industrialised country to use capital punishment, and - along with Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen - it still executes juvenile offenders.


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