In a soon-to-be-released report, the United Nations Human Rights Commission criticizes the United States’ record on human rights within its own borders and internationally. As of this writing, the only more-or-less mainstream media outlet to pick up the story is the Guardian. Not one outlet in the United States has picked up the leaked report, which was obtained by Al Jazeera America and released this morning.
Amnesty International’s representative at the UN commented on the report by saying, “The U.S. is adept at demanding human rights change from other governments while failing to meet international standards itself.” The Guardian characterized the report’s assessment of the United States as “withering”.
The harshly critical report lists 20 specific areas of concern:
- Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
- Racial profiling
- Death penalty
- Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)
- Gun violence
- Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
- Legislation prohibiting torture
- Non-refoulement (“a principle of international law which forbids the rendering of a true victim of persecution to their persecutor” – Wikipedia)
- Trafficking and forced labor
- Domestic violence
- Corporal punishment
- Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
- Criminalization of homelessness
- Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement
- Detainees at Guantanamo Bay
- NSA Surveillance
- Juvenile justice and life without parole sentences
- Voting rights
- Rights of indigenous people
The full unreleased version of the report is included on the Al Jazeera page on which the article appears.
I understand that the fact that Al Jazeera America (AJAM) broke the story causes many Americans to roll their eyes at best and become vitriolic about Islamic news sources at worst, but it’s worth noting that AJAM is clearly dedicated to providing fair and objective reporting of world news from a global, rather than U.S. parochial, perspective. I’ve been studying their coverage for the past two weeks and comparing it to that of CNN, BBC America and the PBS News Hour. I find it to be remarkably objective and refreshingly well produced. Their coverage of the Middle East is, if anything, more balanced and insightful than any other news network.
But in this case, none of that should really matter. The UN is about to release a report clearly critical of the US record on human rights, a report to reveals, at the very least, the hypocrisy of our government in such matters. The fact that no American media outlet has picked up the story is quite telling.