Human Rights in USA

Well, it seems the good (?) (not so) old United States of America no longer has a monopoly on issuing reports on human rights in other nations (not at home of course, you understand).

China has been doing the same for some time now, usually publishing its report in spring each year, mainly focusing on the US.

Now, Russia does it too. Here’s its word on human rights in the USA (opens a Word document). Though they do like to butcher the English language, it has to be said (even more than me).

By way of introduction the report says that the US faces grave challenges as far as human rights are concerned, including, but not limited to: growing social inequality (99% vs 1%), racial, ethnic and religious discrimination, prevalent hate crime, continuing detention of prisoners without trial, partial, corrupt or incompetent justice, prisons operating outside the framework of the law, torture, governmental authorities interfering in judicial processes, weak penitentiary system, denial of the freedom of speech, Internet censorship, legalized corruption, domination of America’s legislative institutions by corrupt geriatrics (crony capitalism), limitation of electoral rights of citizens and so-called “illegal aliens”, racial and ethnic intolerance, violation of children’s rights, widespread child abuse, extraterritorial application of American law which leads to the violation of human rights in other countries, kidnapping, disproportionate use of force against public protests, death penalty in general and death penalty in particular when applied to underage and mentally disabled offenders, etc.

Then it goes on to cover, inter alia, the following areas:

  • Racial, ethnic and religious intolerance

In the U.S. there is currently a dangerous trend toward rising racist and xenophobic sentiment. The American law enforcement authorities register an ongoing increase in the number of extremist groups, hate crimes committed on the grounds of racial, religious and ethnic enmity.

  • Excessive use of force by the police and racial profiling

According to estimates by American non-governmental organizations, approximately one police officer in a hundred is implicated in criminal abuses. U.S. police officers regularly commit sexual harassment, sexual abuses, rape, including against minors. There are numerous cases of police misconduct and/or brutality resulting in fatalities. Ultimately only about 30 percent of the police officers are prosecuted for the crimes committed. Numerous complaints of excessive use of force by the police are received from people taking part in protests opposing social inequality, injustice and corporate greed.

  • Immigration, human trafficking

About 400,000 migrants, aliens or victims of human trafficking are taken into custody for different periods of time annually in the USA. 4.5 million American children currently have at least one parent illegally residing in the United States. Immigrants are typically forced into continuous slave labor, working for 16-24 hours per day. Immigrant workers arriving into the US are disproportionately the victims of sexual and/or criminal abuse. The high number of deaths among immigrants attempting to get into the US illegally is a grave concern.

  • Economic and social rights

In the USA, there are 12.8 million unemployed, 40 million without health insurance, 5 million known drug addicts, 7 million homeless, 100 million mentally ill (one in four Americans), 40 million families living below the official poverty line and 15 million families facing hunger in their daily life. The  standard of living is even worse for the indigenous population of the country (what’s left of it after the Big American genocide) taken separately and there are signs of economic segregation. Among the developed countries of the world, the US has one of the weakest systems to protect workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. Over the past decade, the US has failed to ratify a single convention by the International Labor Organization (ILO). What’s more, lobbying, primarily in the interests of big business and various interest groups, is a widespread phenomenon in the country, and experts view it as a legalized form of corruption that undermines the U.S. ability to confront its economic, social and political challenges.

  • Violation of children’s rights

Hundreds of thousands of children in the United States are subject to ill‑treatment which in some cases (1,600 in 2010) leads to death. Child abuse, including sex crimes with regard to children, is widespread. Corporal punishment for children is legal in 19 states, and it is incurred by nearly 7.5 percent of schoolchildren in some of those states. The United States has educational centers where children receive “treatment” involving electric shock, food deprivation and forced inhalation of ammonia fumes. Hundreds of children are killed every year in the U.S. The United States is one of the two states in the world which have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • Voting rights

The US continues to pass legislative acts that tighten the rules for accessing polling stations during elections. The existing electoral college system creates a situation where the votes of citizens residing in some states mathematically have more weight than of those of other states. More than 5.8 million Americans are banned from voting in view of their previous convictions (an illegal practice under international law). During the forthcoming presidential elections, 25 percent of Americans will vote using electronic ballot scanning devices. In more than 54 percent of cases the voters will not know how exactly their votes are registered by the device. U.S. media report that such devices can be easily manipulated by remote control. Removal from voters’ lists, in particular removal based on party affiliation and race, is a typical case of violation of voting rights and is a widespread phenomenon in the United States.

The President of the USA (POTUS) is still elected not through direct nationwide elections, but by the electoral college. Many political analysts consider this system to be out-of-date and non-democratic. Under this system, in particular, a vote of a resident of Delaware or North Dakota has much more mathematical weight (measured by the ratio of the number of voters to the number of electors in a particular state) than of a voter in bigger states, for instance, in California or New York. Due to the existing system, a candidate winning fewer votes than his rivals was elected President three times in the U.S. history (the last one was George Bush Jr. in 2000).

  • Freedom of speech and press, transparency of government activities

In 2012, international rating agencies dramatically downgraded the freedom of speech level in the US, due, to a large extent, to the excessively harsh measures taken by the U.S. police forces against journalists covering protests against big business (the puppet master of the U.S. Government). U.S. journalist community is concerned with the continued toughening up of legislation on mass media, which will result in the impairment of their rights. It is not infrequent either for journalists in the United States to lose their jobs because of “politically incorrect” opinions.

  • Internet censorship

The U.S. Administration resorts to direct pressure on companies that provide the U.S. with web content. From July to December 2011 Google alone received 103 percent more requests for content removal than they did during the last reporting period. From 2004 to 2007 the number of e-mails read by the U.S. secret services increased by 3,000 per cent. The U.S. government continues to deny the world internet community access to several dozen sites, including http://www.cubanculture.org.

  • Capital punishment

33 states still have and regularly use capital punishment. 3,100 prisoners, including 62 women, await execution on death row. 22 juveniles were executed in the USA between 1976 and 2005. According to American human rights activists, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of all convicts under sentence of death in the US suffer from serious mental disorders. Racial discrimination is a factor too.

  • Penitentiary system

The US continues to imprison its people, in particular its minorities, at the highest rate in the world — it remains a country with the highest number of prisoners in the world (2.2 million people, or every 99th adult); more than 60 percent of American prisoners are from racial and ethnic minorities. The number of persons sentenced to life imprisonment is steadily growing, for example, in 2008 the number of such persons was 140,600 people, of which 6,800 were adolescents. In some states one in twenty prisoners is kept in extreme isolation, e.g. in solitary confinement. Many prisons don’t comply with even the minimum standards of detention. Regularly and in large numbers (up to 2 million from 2003 to the present) prisoners are humiliated and routinely subjected to sexual assault by prison staff and other prisoners.

  • Tracing dissidents

 The current U.S. legislation essentially allows the intelligence community to eavesdrop on all electronic communications of foreigners and Americans without a court order. In 2011, the U.S. law enforcement agencies made more than 1.3 million requests to provide information on telephone calls of cellular subscribers. Rights of foreign citizens are particularly vulnerable as they can be subject to electronic surveillance even without any grounds to presume that they are involved in criminal activities. Serious concern is expressed about the FBI‘s DNA database expanding at an exponential rate.

  • Indiscriminate use of force in armed conflict zones.

According to available data, by August 2012 the conflict in Iraq has claimed the lives of over 1,000,000 people, most of them civilians. In Afghanistan since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom around 14.4‑17.2 thousand civilians have been killed, of whom up to 9 thousand by were killed by the occupation forces led by the United States. The practice of elimination (and according to human rights activists of extrajudicial killing) of suspected terrorists with drones continues unabated. As a result of these “targeted” strikes, up to 900 civilians have died in Pakistan (175 of them children), up to 150 civilians in Yemen (24–31 of them children) and up to 60 civilians in Somalia (1–3 of them children). 50 civilians are killed for each rebel killed by drone. Cases of abuse and inhumane treatment on the part of U.S. servicemen, the shooting and bayoneting of pregnant women and children, mutilation and dismemberment of corpses are common. Only in the most notorious cases are the perpetrators brought to justice.

  • CIA abductions, CIA “black site” prisons, torture

 The problem of CIA “black site” prisons, located in the territory of Poland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Thailand, Morocco, Romania and Lithuania, remains unsolved. American authorities actively practiced abductions of future detainees of these prisons. The U.S. “black site” prisons use torture on a regular basis. Those responsible for the operation of these illegal prisons and for torturing detainees, are sheltered by the U.S. authorities. Lawsuits by “black site” prison detainees against U.S. authorities are dismissed.

Well, so much for human rights in the United States.

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