Amnesty International Urges United States to Address United Nations' Concerns Over Human Rights Obligations at First Review of U.S. Record

Member States Support Call for U.S. Human Rights Improvements Across the Board: on Women's Rights, Torture, Death Penalty

(Geneva) -- Cristina Finch, Amnesty International USA Government Relations Director, made the following comments  today, at the conclusion of the first Universal Periodic Review of the United States' record on international human rights obligations before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva:

"Today's review session clearly shows the deficiencies in the human rights record of the United States and the need for the government to take bold steps to improve its record," said Finch, who attended the hearing. "The Obama administration has reengaged on human rights and for this we are grateful.  But the facts speak for themselves; it is vital that the United States rebuild its leadership on human rights.  The United States cannot take other countries to task for human rights abuses, when its own record at home falls short."

"To demonstrate its commitment to rebuilding a robust framework for human rights, Amnesty International urges President Obama to issue a comprehensive Executive Order that would integrate the United States' human rights commitments throughout all of the agencies of the government. The Executive Order would address the human rights obligations of the United States and put concrete action behind President Obama's recognition that human rights begin at home.”

“United Nations' member states told the U.S. delegation in Geneva of their concerns about the death penalty in the United States and urged that this cruel and unusual punishment be abolished.  Other countries also pointed to the inconsistency of the United States having played an important role in drafting the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) yet today remains one of only seven countries worldwide to have failed to ratify it.  The Obama administration has said it strongly supports ratification.  Now, it must work with the Senate to put that support into action."

"Amnesty International has called on the U.S. government to end indefinite detention of prisoners and trials before military commissions in Guantanamo.  In addition, the United States must hold those responsible for torture accountable.  These recommendations must be at the heart of rebuilding the United States' human rights record."

Senior government officials appeared before the Human Rights Council to offer the self-evaluation in Geneva.  Member states presented questions, concerns and recommendations to the U.S. delegation. The United States must respond to the recommendations raised during the review by Tuesday. The Council will then issue a report with final adoption scheduled for next March.

Amnesty International submitted recommendations to the Human Rights Council for improvements in the U.S. record on a range of issues, including accountability for torture commit ted in the war on terror, a moratorium on the death penalty with a view toward abolishing it, treatment of migrants held in custody, post-Hurricane Katrina issues, spiraling rates of maternal deaths and violence against women and U.S. adoption and adherence to international laws and standards.

The recommendations are available at the following link:

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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