US faces first scrutiny by UN rights council

31st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The United States will come under the spotlight at the UN's top human rights assembly's for the first time over the coming week along with other countries that face scrutiny by the Human Rights Council.

The 12-day session of the 47 member council starting on Monday will include regular "universal periodic reviews" of 16 members of the United Nations, including the United States on November 5.

Several dozen non governmental organisation are expected to lobby the debate on the US human rights record, while Washington will also defend its record.

Some 300 US civil liberties and community groups in the US Human Rights Network on Monday called on the Obama administration to bring "substandard human rights practices" in the United States into line with international standards.

The United States only agreed to join the Council in May 2009, after the Bush administration had shunned the body which replaced its similar though discredited predecessor, the UN human rights commission, in 2006.

The Network produced a 400-page report criticising "glaring inadequacies in the United States' human rights record," including the "discriminatory impact" of foreclosures, "widespread" racial profiling and "draconian" immigration policies.

"Advocates across America have not only documented substandard human rights practices which have persisted in the US for years, but also those that reflect the precipitous erosion of human rights protections in the US since 9/11," said Sarah Paoletti of the Network.

The United States has also faced widespread criticism by UN rights monitors in recent years over its handling of terror suspects and suspected torture, while concern over the conduct of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been revived in recent months with "Wikileak" reports on leaked confidential documents.

The other UN member states scheduled for review in this Council session will be Andorra, Bulgaria, Croatia, Honduras, Jamaica, Liberia, Libya, Lebanon Malawi, Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Mauritania, Micronesia, Mongolia, and Panama.

Each public, four-year, review is based on a report by the country, a compilation of non governmental organisation assessments and a one day debate with comments by its peers. No action is taken.

© 2010 AFP

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