Apr 16 2013

U.N. Human Rights Committee releases list of issues it will raise with the U.S.

Last month, as we’ve reported, we met with the U.N. Human Rights Committee in Geneva to discuss our recommendations to the Human Rights Committee of issues to raise with the U.S. government during the Committee’s review this year of U.S. implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), an international treaty which guarantees, inter alia, the right to freedom of movement.

The Human Rights Committee has now posted a preliminary version of its List of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America. (This version is preliminary and unofficial only because the original English text has not yet been translated into all of the six official U.N. languages.)

The U.S. government is expected to respond to this short list of issues and questions before its appearance before the Committee in October 2013. But the Committee’s short list of issues is not limiting, and questions about other issues may be asked during the October session. That’s especially likely to be the case for issues of concern to members of the Committee who were not on the sub-committee that drafted the list of issues related ot the USA.

The specific U.S. violations of the right to freedom of movement raised in our submissions were not included on the Committee’s short list of issues.  But the Committee did raise, and ask the Committee to respond to, the issue we raised (and which we uncovered through our FOIA requests) of US failure to implement Executive Order 13107 or authorize U.S. courts to review complaints of human rights violations.

In the previous review of the U.S. by the U.N. Human Rights Committee, the U.S. referred to Executive Order 13107, issued in 1992, which ostensibly required Federal agencies to implement the ICCPR and to consider and respond to complaints of violations of the ICCPR.

However, the U.S. government must have known, when it submitted its 2005 report, that EO 13107 was never implemented. In response to our FOIA requests, executive and administrative departments have been unable to identify any records of the complaints they have received of violations of the ICCPR, responses to those complaints, or reviews of the issues raised by those complaints.

It’s no surprise that the U.S. misled the U.N. But we’re pleased to have helped expose these U.S. deceptions.

The U.S. failure to implement EO 13107 or give U.S. courts jurisdiction over complaints of violations of the ICCPR demonstrates that administrative discretion, without the possibility of judicial review, is not sufficient to protect human rights.

The first issue on the Committee’s short list, direct prompted by our submission, is as follows:

Constitutional and legal framework within which the Covenant is implemented (art. 2)
1.    Please clarify the following issues:
a) the State party’s understanding of the scope of applicability of the Covenant with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction but outside its territory; in times of peace, as well as in times of  armed conflict;
b) which measures have been taken to ensure that the Covenant is fully implemented by State and local authorities;
c) whether the State party intends to reinvigorate Executive Order 13107/1998 titled “Implementation of Human Rights Treaties”.

We will continue to monitor and provide feedback to the U.N. Human Rights Committee concerning the U.S. government’s responses to these questions, and the other issues we have raised.

3 thoughts on “U.N. Human Rights Committee releases list of issues it will raise with the U.S.

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