The United States has long taken stands against the inhumane practices of other nations. The United States has pointed it's long ugly finger at other nations who allowed egregious human rights practices and has even gone to war (if only economic) with these nations in protest of these practices. This week the United States had to answer for it's own violations of the global UN Convention Against Torture.
Several separate issues were addressed by the panel investigating the United States including the torture at Guantanamo and why the facility has not been closed; the kidnapping of people from the European Union by the CIA for questioning; the police brutality and militarization of police departments; the use of solitary confinement; prison rape and prison conditions; and the closed door policy of the US to allow access to facilities by UN council investigators.
The United States can no longer declare that it is the "land of the free". It can no longer stand with finger pointing and declare that the rest of the world should meet their standards regarding human rights and conditions. The nation is failing at upholding ANY standard of human rights, even stooping to a new low by criminalizing poverty and the charitable actions of those trying to help their brothers.
The torture endured by those held at Guantanamo will forever be a black mark on the history of America but even worse was the fact that the same torture meeted to prisoners at Guantanamo (labeled terrorists) was being imposed on citizens of this country in prisons all across America. Yet the acting legal advisor for the Stated Department had the gall to say, “There should be no doubt, the United States affirms that torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment are prohibited at all times in all places.” I wonder if the woman continually raped by prison guards would agree.
The US was pressed to disclose what it was doing to address the issue of police brutality like the situation in Ferguson Missouri and the death of the young black man at the hand of an officer? The US responded with: David Bitkower, deputy assistant attorney general with the U.S. Justice Department’s criminal division, told the panel that the department’s civil rights division has opened over 20 investigations “into systemic police department violations over the past five years.” He added, “We have prosecuted over 330 police officers for misconduct.”
The most poignant issues of prison abuse, the overuse of solitary confinement and the inhumane practices of US prisons was met with the most untruthful statement of all: "Bitkower said the Justice Department “is continuing to work to prevent, detect and respond to abuse in U.S. prisons.” He said the Justice Department last year found that Pennsylvania’s use of “long-term and extreme forms of solitary confinement” violated U.S. law and noted that U.S. federal courts “have interpreted the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution as prohibiting the use of solitary confinement under certain circumstances.”
But the U.S. delegation also said in its report to the commission that “there is no systematic use of solitary confinement in the United States.” You can read more Here
The investigation should go further by including the United States violation of it's own constitution against "Cruel and Unusual" punishment. The United States incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. The US has some of the harshest sentencing practices, no prison oversight or accountability, no regard for humane treatment or conditions, no rehabilitation and current structure of prisons promotes violence and torture. The United States condemns children to die in prison even though the highest court of the land has found this practice to be a violation of the constitution.
The final statement concerning the systematic use of solitary confinement is a blatant lie to the esteemed UN council and should be treated as aggressive behavior by a nation towards all the other nations of the world. It is time the government of this nation was called to account for the treatment of it's citizens. The people of this country have tried with no success. Maybe the UN council will have better luck.
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