US defends rights record at first ever UN review News
US defends rights record at first ever UN review
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[JURIST] The US government’s human rights record came under criticism Friday during the country’s first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official websites]. Among the criticisms leveled at the US [Reuters report] were the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, the practice of rendition, the embargo of Cuba and the continued use of the death penalty[JURIST news archives]. Representatives from the US defended the country’s record, including the Obama administration’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay and its pledge against the use of torture. As part of the UPR, the nation under review submits a report [UPR materials], the UN compiles documentation and interested nations are permitted to submit a list of questions to be answered in the review. The current UPR will continue until November 12, and the next Session will begin in late January.

The US submitted its national report [JURIST report] to the UNHRC in August, and the report included mention of Arizona’s controversial immigration law, SB 1070 [JURIST news archive]. The inclusion of that law angered Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who later wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton requesting the deletion [JURIST report] of that section of the report. The US was elected to the UNHRC [JURIST report] in May 2009. In anticipation of that election and in an effort to secure a seat on the council, the US released a document [JURIST report] in April of that year asserting its commitment to human rights, marking a reversal of the prior administration’s stance towards the body. The UNHRC was created [JURIST report] in 2006, at which time the Bush administration declined to seek a Council seat or participate in its proceedings due to a perceived anti-Israeli sentiment.