During its Consideration of the Fourth Periodic Report of the United States
January 4, 2013
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Human Rights Watch submitted this statement in advance of the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s upcoming pre-sessional review of the United States. We hope that the points raised in this submission will inform the Committee’s understanding of the US government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

On the whole, people in the US enjoy a democratic government, a broad range of civil rights and civil liberties, and recourse to a strong system of federal, state, and local courts. While human rights abuses continue, the existence of a vibrant civil society in the United States allows people to advocate for increased protection of their rights.

Yet despite these positive steps, the United States remains stubbornly attached to many practices that fail to respect basic human rights. The US has failed to fully repudiate abusive post-9/11 counterterrorism policies. It continues to fail to protect children by blurring the lines between children and adults in the criminal justice system, and it persists in supporting arbitrary and excessive sentencing and detention policies that fail to take into account a person’s individual circumstances. The US also continues to ignore the consequences of discriminatory federal and state laws, policies, and practices.

Overall, the United States’ record of compliance with its obligations under the ICCPR is one rife with contradictions. The message we urge the Committee to deliver in its upcoming review of the United States is that the US should seek greater consistency in its effort to uphold the protections it committed to when ratifying the ICCPR.