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UN urges improved US rights record
Sat Mar 19, 2011 |
The venue for the Human Rights Council at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva
The UN Human Rights Council has carried out its first review of the US human rights record, with Washington rejecting many of the body's recommendations.
The review, issued on Friday, addressed a large number of important issues, such as the death penalty, mistreatment of migrants, racial disparities in education, access to health care, and accountability for torture, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
The US refused to change its position on the death penalty but said it would agree to improvements in areas ranging from civil rights to national security to immigration, including intolerance of torture and the humane treatment of suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba.
Many Human Rights Council members urged the United States to reduce overcrowding in prisons, and ratify international treaties on the rights of women and children.
They also called on Washington to take further steps to prevent racial profiling.
Cuba, Iran and Venezuela complained that the United States was brushing aside too many recommendations.
China and Russia also said Washington was not even doing enough to improve the situation in Guantanamo. They called for the prison camp to be shut down as the incumbent US President Barack Obama had promised before taking office.
Japan, France and Cameroon had led the writing of the report on the US issue.
Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's human rights program, said one of the biggest shortcomings of the US is that it still has not created an independent human rights monitoring commission as has been done in over 100 countries.
"While the Obama administration should be commended for its positive engagement in this process, in order to lead by example, this international engagement must be followed by concrete domestic actions to bring US laws and policies in line with international human rights standards," Dakwar said.
The United States joined the 47-nation Human Rights Council in 2009.