During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Obama touched on issues of national security, criminal justice reform, immigration policy and women’s health, all of which involve human rights.
It is important to promote awareness of these issues as part of the US national conversation. But as always, the proof is in the pudding. So how do President Obama’s words stack up against actions?
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Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
This blog is part of a series on human rights in the State of the Union address. The United States has an obligation to pursue policies that ensure respect for human rights at home and around the world. Follow along and join the conversation using #SOTUrights.
Dear Mr. President,
I call on you to use your State of the Union address to recommit to human rights standards in the criminal justice system, especially as it affects communities of color in the U.S.
The demand for an inclusive dialogue on race and policing has taken center stage following the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Gardner, Ezell Ford and Tamir Rice and the lack of accountability for the police officers responsible. Community members and leaders are calling for a comprehensive examination of police procedures and practices which directly or indirectly facilitate hostile interactions between police and the communities they are entrusted to protect. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Zack Michaelson
Our nation is currently in a debate about how to handle gross abuses of power by those tasked with defending us. In past weeks, we have learned more about the vast conspiracy of torture operated by the CIA, perpetrated on more than one hundred people. We have witnessed a run of recent incidents involving police using what appears to be unwarranted lethal force. The police violence around the country has also appeared to get inadequate investigation and accountability, angering many. These coincident events derive from shared issues, and now is the time for action for those who defend human rights.
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In the Nigerian presidential elections on February 15th, and after a year of conflict spurred by attacks by the armed group Boko Haram, one would expect security issues to be the top topic of debate. However, in his New Years address to the nation, President Goodluck Jonathan, the incumbent in the election, placed little emphasis on the severity of the violence in the northern regions of the country. Instead, he devoted a majority of the speech to his commitment to the oil industry and other topics of infrastructure and development. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Yesterday, gunmen attacked the Paris office of the newspaper Charlie Hebdo. In Peshawar last month, at least 142 people—including 132 children—were killed by Taliban militants at a military-run school. These are just two of scores of attacks by armed individuals and groups that have occurred over the last year. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
On December 8, 2014, the Department of Justice released its revised “Guidance on the Use of Race” by law enforcement officials. Just in time for Human Rights Day (and you thought the feds only cared about the Constitution).
The revised guidance expanded the classes protected from discriminatory policing from just race and ethnicity to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin and religion. It not only covers federal law enforcement officers performing federal law enforcement activities, including those related to national security and intelligence, but also local and state law enforcement officers who are participating in federal law enforcement task forces. While not providing a private right of action, it does require each agency to collect data on complaints made under the guidelines. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Over two dozen people were arrested in raids against media critical of Turkish president. (OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)
A wave of arrests Sunday morning shook Turkey and made headline news throughout the world. The arrests, which are part of a broad campaign against the Gülen Movement, were hardly a surprise. A twitter user had leaked information about it some days in advance, it was preceded by some typically fire-breathing speeches by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the Istanbul Prosecutor’s office issued a press release before the arrests were made. In total 27 people were arrested, including a number of journalists and media figures.
Along with other human rights organizations, Amnesty has called on Turkish authorities to release those arrested yesterday unless authorities can produce “credible evidence that they have committed a recognizably criminal offense.” SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By: Larry Fellows III, Community organizer and leader in Ferguson
Suffocating smoke fills the night sky; sonic booms shake the black concrete streets while intense screams of men, women and children echo into the air like a blockbuster flick. But this isn’t a Michael Bay film. This a Monday night, August 18th, 2014, in Ferguson, and this is real life. This is my real life. The smoke that fills the air is tear gas, the sonic booms are from armored vehicles approaching protesters and executing gas bombs. The men, women and children are my friends and neighbors, residents of Saint Louis, Missouri, all of us in the streets for over a week demanding accountability.
A deep voice echoes from the PA on top of one of the armored cars: “please go back to your homes.” But THIS IS MY HOME. This is where I was born, fished with my grandpa in January-Wabash Park as a kid, graduated from Hazelwood East, wear my St. Louis Cardinals hat proudly. So when I’m being told to go home what exactly does that mean? SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Just over a week after a grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a grand jury in Staten Island, New York has decided not to indict the officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner, despite the existence of a video capturing the incident that took place on July 17, 2014. In the process of apprehending Garner, the officer placed Garner in a chokehold which an autopsy determined compressed his neck and restricted his chest to the point of asphyxiation. These are just two of many cases we have seen this year where black men are dying at the hands of police officers around the country.
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The new “Young Black Alive” campaign is aimed at tackling the underlying human rights issues behind Brazil’s soaring youth homicide rate. © Anistia Internacional Brasil
By Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil
Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities orfavelas.
Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST