US Attorney General Eric Holder should press state and local officials during his visit to Ferguson, Missouri, on August 20, 2014, to reform police practices to improve respect for basic rights. Holder should also support federal reforms that could help address concerns about policing and racial discrimination raised during the Ferguson protests over the last 10 days.
We write to urge you to affirm that US obligations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Convention against Torture”) apply to all official US conduct, including conduct outside the territorial United States.
I write to follow up on my September 9, 2014 letter to you on behalf of Human Rights Watch, in which we urged that the state of Missouri undertake a comprehensive review of law enforcement responses to the protests that began on August 9 in Ferguson. Your recent announcement of the creation of the Ferguson Commission, a panel charged with studying the “the social and economic conditions underscored by the unrest in the wake of the death of Michael Brown,” left unclear whether the panel will address the many outstanding and serious questions about the police response to the protests.
The 44-page report, “‘You Don’t Have Rights Here’: US Border Screening and Returns of Central Americans to Risk of Serious Harm,” details the US border policies and practices that place migrants at risk of serious harm back home, based on the accounts of people sent back to Honduras, people in detention, and an analysis of deportation data obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
On his way to the opening of the UN General Assembly in New York last month, President Barack Obama stopped at the Clinton Global Initiative, where he announced a ban on U.S. use of antipersonnel landmines everywhere except the Korean Peninsula due to its “unique circumstances.” He pledged, “We’re going to continue to work to find ways that would allow us to ultimately comply fully and accede to the Ottawa Convention,” as the U.S. government prefers to call the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty.