We Can’t Breath – Human Rights For All

In light of recent events, the United States is in what many may call a societal calamity. Americans and those abroad are questioning the integrity of its justice system. Internally, the USA fights amongst each other for human rights in this country. The United Nations is reported to be concerned about the “institutionalized discrimination a crossed the United States,” particularly, in regard to African-Americans. Also in recent news the Senate released its five year executive summary reports of blatant violation of international human rights under the Bush administration. The UN again, is spotlighting the US, and seeking accountability of those that planned and executed the extremities. The line dividing crime and punishment have merged in the United States, and the justice system shows its flaws on a local and international platform.

Saturday, December 13, The Justice For All March was one of the many protest that have been stimulated by the recent deaths of African-American boys and men, namely Michael Brown Jr. Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, and Tamir Rice. The Justice for All March took place in Washington DC and simultaneously The Millionsman March took place in New York City, in solidarity. The March in DC, particularly was held by Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, highlighting the strength of the families of the victims and the need to reform legislature to hold law enforcement accountable. Both Marches had over 5000 protestors of all color and creed promoting the need for a change, NYC’s numbers growing to 25 thousand by the nights end. In addition high UN High Commissioner for Human Right, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has said, “I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.”

The Justice for All March, in DC, was unique in that once protestors walked approximately 10 blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue it transformed into a rally in front of the Capitol building. Protestors not only chanted, but they also were informed as to what steps are being taking to hold law enforcement agencies accountable. Congressman Al Green, for example, enlightened protestors of his Transparency in Policing Act, H.R. 5407, which will require law enforcement agencies to wear body cameras. This is being practiced in small part with the pilot program, in which 60 officers are wearing body cameras in New York City. Highly influential Judge Greg Mathis spoke to the crowd, while director Spike Lee stood front row encaging in the chants and supporting the speakers. When Social asks honorable Judge Mathis, what goal he came to accomplish, he responded “Try to advocate for emendation to Federal and State law.”

The Senate Intelligence committee released an executive summary, revealing that the CIA has committed extreme violators of international human rights. These torture tactics including rectal feeding, waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and ice water baths. In this report 26 of 119 detainees should have never been apprehended. The first full report of Abu Zubaydah provides information of him being water boarded to the point of unresponsiveness. CIA officials repeatedly reported misinformation to congress misrepresenting the number of detainees and the tactics used. Officials also made false claims that these enhanced interrogation techniques led to the capture of Osama Bin Laden. On the contrary, the report suggests that the extreme torture methods could have slowed the pursuit for Bin Laden.

The United Nations is calling for the United States to reprimand those responsible for the inhumane treatment. UN’s Ben Emmerson, the counter terrorism and human rights special reporter publically condemns CIA’s interrogation and detention program, and demands criminal prosecution for the Bush era officials involved. He is quoted to have said “It is now time to take action. The individuals responsible for the criminal conspiracy revealed in today’s report must be brought to justice, and must face criminal penalties commensurate with the gravity of their crimes.” Countries such as the United Kingdom, North Korea, Russian, and China have all spoke out against torture and urge the United State to abide by the same international integrity that the US holds others to.

Questions arise for the US and its justice system. How can the United States recover from such a state of turmoil? If this country is looked to as a world leader, do these actions give other developing countries permission to commit genocide and torture? It is clear that the U.S. policies on human rights are not being held as a priority or being executed to the full extent of the law. Now that this country is being pressured for adjustments and accountability, is there hope for a better America or will this country break under the weight domestic and foreign human rights?

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