Human Rights Watch Presentation to the United States Sentencing Commission on Proportionality and Federal Crack Sentences
(March 14, 2002) -- Human Rights Watch welcomes the decision of the United States Sentencing Commission to review once more the federal sentencing structure for cocaine offenses. The public health, social, and economic consequences of the use and sale of cocaine in any form, and crack cocaine in particular, warrant public concern. But they do not justify penal sanctions that are disproportionately harsh and racially discriminatory. They do not justify prison sentences that violate common sense, basic principles of criminal justice, and internationally affirmed human rights.
Race and Incarceration in the United States
(February 22, 2002) -- In this briefing, we present new figures documenting racial disparities state-by-state in the incarceration of African Americans and Latinos.1 We hope they will help state residents and public officials to understand their state-specific incarceration patterns and practices.
Background Paper on Geneva Conventions and Persons Held by U.S. Forces
(January 29, 2002) -- This background paper highlights the international law issues surrounding the status and treatment of Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan in U.S. custody. It cites the need for a formal and individualized determination of prisoner of war status where that status is in doubt. This paper also sets out international law requirements governing prisoners of war and so-called "unlawful combatants," including humane treatment, interrogation and prosecution.
The Legal Prohibition Against Torture
(November 20, 2001) -- The U.S. government has admitted detaining some 1,100 people in the United States as part of its response to the attacks of September 11. The U.S. Department of Justice has refused to release the names of those detained, the locations where they are being held, any criminal or immigration charges filed or other basis for their detention, or the names of their attorneys.
Testimony on the Execution of Juvenile Offenders in Texas
(April 17, 2001) -- On behalf of Human Rights Watch, I urge the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee to report favorably on H.B. 2048, which would raise the minimum age for capital punishment to eighteen. A majority of states have recognized that putting people to death for crimes they committed as children is contrary to our evolving standards of decency. Of the thirty-eight states that retain the death penalty, twenty-three permit its imposition on juvenile offenders.
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2001 2000 1999
Backgrounders By Region
Europe and Central Asia
Middle East and Northern Africa