State Dept Seeks Public Input on Human Rights in U.S.

The U.S. State Department is inviting members of the public to present their concerns about human rights in the United States as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, in which the human rights records of all UN Member States are to be reviewed.

“In the pursuit of a transparent and effective UPR process, the Department of State is encouraging the American public, including non-governmental organizations and civil society more broadly, to provide input regarding human rights in the United States directly to the Department of State.”

“Your feedback is vital for us to better gauge the U.S. human rights situation now, and how protection of human rights can be improved in our country and around the world,” the State Department website said. “We look forward to receiving your comments.”

The Federation of American Scientists asked the State Department to turn its attention to those cases where a resolution of alleged human rights violations has been barred by the government’s use of the state secrets privilege.

“There are innocent individuals who have been swept up in U.S. Government counterterrorism operations, wrongly detained, ‘rendered’ surreptitiously to foreign countries, subjected to extreme physical and mental stress, or otherwise wronged,” we wrote.  “In some cases, like those of persons such as Maher Arar and Khaled el-Masri, efforts to seek legal remedies have been blocked by the Government’s invocation of the state secrets privilege. As a result, the alleged abuses committed in such cases remain unresolved, and there is no way for the affected individuals to be made whole.”

“If the judicial process in such cases is foreclosed by the state secrets privilege, then an alternate procedure should be created to rectify the wrongs that may have been committed,” we suggested.