In November 2010, the United States will be reviewed for its compliance with human rights obligations by the UN Human Rights Council as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process. Every member State of the United Nations undergoes this review every four years, and this year’s review is the United States’ first.
The United States is a leading voice for the protection of refuges around the world. It is a party to the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other human rights conventions that protect the rights of all individuals, including refugees and asylum seekers. Yet this country has fallen short in its protection of refugees who seek asylum in the United States. In recent months, Human Rights First has highlighted several U.S. policies and practices in need of improvement in advance of the UPR:
- Failure to provide prompt court review of detention of arriving
- Asylum filing deadline that is inconsistent with Refugee Protocol;
- Overly broad approaches to exclusion from refugee protection; and
- Interdiction procedures that are inconsistent with non-refoulement and non-discrimination obligations.
For more information on the UPR process, see the State Department’s website, the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and a helpful guide prepared by the Urban Justice Center.
Arbitrary Detention: U.S. Non-Compliance with ICCPR
In August 2010, Human Rights First submitted a paper to the U.S. government outlining three key areas of noncompliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as it relates to the detention of asylum seekers and migrants:
- Lack of a prompt court review of the decision to detain asylum seekers;
- Lack of an individualized determination of the need for detention and failure to provide periodic review;
- Detention in jails and jail-like facilities that are not appropriate to an asylum seeker’s or immigrant’s status as an administrative – not criminal – detainee.
The UN Human Rights Committee will review U.S. compliance with its obligations under the ICCPR in 2011.
Human Rights First Submits Reports on U.S. Treaty Compliance
In April 2010, Human Rights First submitted a report to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in advance of the review of the United States on the issues of refugee protection, counter-terrorism, and hate crimes. Read the report.
Human Rights First also joined 18 national and 30 state and local organizations in endorsing a report to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights focusing on U.S. practices affecting refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants. Read the report.
Human Rights First Joins Civil Society Consultations
In February 2010, Human Rights First participated in a civil society consultation in Washington, where we highlighted the absence of independent review of custody for asylum seekers who are detained.
In March 2010, Human Rights First participated in a civil society consultation in El Paso, Texas, co-hosted by the Border Network for Human Rights. We organized and moderated a panel on immigration detention that was attended by senior U.S. government officials as well as local NGOs working with immigrant detainees at the border.