A United States delegation to the U.N. faced blistering criticism from an international committee in Geneva over a slew of human rights concerns on Friday, including stand your ground laws, the death penalty, voting rights and racial disparities in education.
“What we are finding is that the U.S. government is out of step with its obligations under international human rights law,” said Ejim Dike, executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network, who attended the questioning before the U.N.’s Human Rights Committee. “I would say the U.S. government response so far has not been adequate.”
Over the course of two days, members of the human rights committee grilled the 32-person delegation from the United States over a long list of issues highlighted by an umbrella group of human and civil rights groups and non-governmental organizations. The questioning was part of the Human Rights Committees’ periodic review of compliance under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a pact signed by 167 countries in 1976.
Groups including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the Dream Defenders and a host of other organizations sent representatives to Geneva as lobbyists and observers. Many of the groups filed a joint submission ahead of the review detailing issues and concerns. Those concerns included abuses by American border patrol agents, the federal government’s inability to tamp down zero-tolerance school discipline policies and police brutality.
“We’re not meeting international human rights standards and most people in the United States are under the impression that our laws meet human rights standards,” Dike said. “But we are not exceptional and the U.S. government should be held to the same standard as the rest of the world when it comes to international human rights.”