August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, September 5, 2010

US Human Rights Network issues report for UN Periodic Review

US Human Rights Network issues serious report for the United Nations, following the watered-down Periodic Review issued by the US State Department

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

A joint report for the UN Periodic Review from the US Human Rights Network has been released. Unlike the US State Department's watered-down version of the testimony presented at the Listening Conferences, this 423-page document covers American Indian treaties and specific concerns expressed by Native Americans.
"Treaties with Indigenous Nations, and the range of rights they affirm, continue to be
consistently violated by the United States," the US Human Rights Network report states.
The Human Rights Network report includes sections on Indigenous Peoples rights, US torture in violation of Geneva Conventions and systematic racial discrimination in the US, in regards to race and gender in housing, employment and elsewhere. It describes the shocking and inhumane treatment of migrants by ICE and Homeland Security and the militarization of the US/Mexico border.
Racial profiling is exposed in Arizona, both by Border Patrol agents and law enforcement.
"In a survey conducted with over 300 families in Arizona border communities, the Border Action Network found that a startling majority of residents (41% in Pirtleville, 66% in Naco, 70% in Nogales, and 77% in Douglas) felt that Border Patrol Agents stopped people for simply having brown skin," the Human Rights report states.
Racial profiling of American Indians by police is also documented. In Arizona, analysis of data related to highway stops made between July 1, 2006 and June 30, 2007, found that Native Americans were more than 3 times as likely to be searched as whites by officers of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The release of the report is in preparation for November 5, 2010, when the United States is scheduled to appear before the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group to openly discuss and account for its human rights record.
The Human Rights Network said, "This historic review will be the first time the United States is called upon to address how its policies and practices compare not only to those human rights standards set forth UN human rights treaties it has ratified, but also to the full panoply of rights set forth in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights."
While the State Department's watered down version omitted most Native American concerns, it did inflame Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

"The report on human rights in the United States submitted by the State Department to the United Nations on August 20 has been met with criticism from conservative quarters," the Human Rights Network said in its statement.
"Most recently, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer demanded that an innocuous mention of Arizona’s controversial immigration law be removed from the report."

The Universal Periodic Review process examines the human rights records of all U.N. member states every four years. Moreover, a comprehensive report of domestic human rights issues coordinated and released by the US Human Rights Network clearly demonstrates that the problems addressed in the government report are not only real, but understated.

The Human Rights Network report (below) consists of 26 separate submissions by civil society groups and human rights advocates covering a sweeping range of human rights topics. (The full press statement is at: )

The Human Rights Network report includes submissions on human rights from the Indigenous Environmental Network, International Indian Treaty Council, International Justice Program Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), Laguna Acoma Peoples for a Safe Environment, Nation of Hawaii (Oahu and Maui Hawaii), National Native American Prisoners’ Rights Coalition, Pit River Tribe and Wintu Nationk, Venetie Traditional Council, Gwich’in in Athabascan Nation, Wanblee Wakpa Oyate, Pine Ridge Reservation and Western Shoshone Defense Project.

The Human Rights Network report was released the first week of September, at the same time that Uranium Resources, Inc., said it is preparing to begin drilling for uranium alongside Ambrosia Lake, N.M., on the Navajo Nation, threatening the water supply of future generations of Navajos.
The report points out the legacy of death from uranium mining in the Southwest. "The Pueblo, Navajo, Hopi, Havasupai, and Western Shoshone Peoples were exposed to the ruinous effects of uranium mining milling, waste storage and weapons testing, since the late 1940’s. Uranium production has killed hundreds of Indigenous Peoples, including hundreds of miners still dying from radiation poisoning and cancers of all sorts. Radioactive residue blown by 324 the wind and seeping into surface and ground water in a continual poisoning of Indigenous communities has never been remedied."
The uranium mining that is once again targeting Navajoland is also targeting Lakota lands.
The report states, "The Lakota Nation and the Pine Ridge Reservation located in South Dakota, have been subjected to the same deleterious effects including illness, deaths and environmental ruination by uranium mining in the Sacred Black Hills, which are recognized and protected by the 1868 Ft. Laramie Treaty with the US and are also subject to Aboriginal Title. The Lakota are now in a struggle against the expansion of a uranium mine licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the United States. The mining company, CAMECO, the world’s largest producer of uranium proposes an 'in situ leaching' process (ISL) that would pump millions of gallons of toxic and radioactive substances such as Arsenic, Radium 226 & 228, Thorium 230 into the Earth and groundwater. The licensing of the CAMECO expansion is in litigation. The proposed ISL would undoubtedly affect the regional watershed but CAMECO’s scientists claim that the watersheds are unrelated and that 'no one uses' the affected watershed in the homeland of the Lakota Nation."
The Human Rights Network also points out the gold mining that threatens sacred Mount Tenabo of the Western Shoshone and how Shoshone land has been targeted by the military and for nuclear dumping.
"For example, the Western Shoshone have documented the involvement of corporations with respect to concerns regarding open pit mining, nuclear waste disposal and military testing, and new efforts to pipe massive quantities of water from under their traditional land base to water the growing metropolitan area of Las Vegas, Nevada."
The pristine region of the Arctic has also been targeted by the US for oil and gas drilling. Further, sacred San Francisco Peaks will be defiled with snow made from sewage water for tourism at the Snowbowl, if not halted.

"This has been carried out not only without consent, but in the face of vehement and united protest by Indigenous Peoples who consider it to be sacred, including the Navajo, Yavapai-Apache White Mountain Apache, Hopi, Havasupai and Hualapai Nations," the report states.

The new report describes the shocking and inhumane treatment of migrants by ICE and Homeland Security and the militarization of the US/Mexico border.

The report states how migrants are held behind barbed wire, subjected to strip searches and denied basic human rights during imprisonment.

"Depending upon where they are detained, they may not be permitted contact visits with family, may be subject to degrading conditions including strip searches, and may face barriers to communicating with their family, counsel, or other support systems. Immigrants in detention may be held for prolonged periods of time without access to the outdoors.

"Appropriate psychological and medical services for torture survivors are universally unavailable. Immigrant detainees routinely are commingled with convicted people."

The report describes how minor children are held in custody for up to three days with adult detainees. There is also a reference to the outdoor "cage" on the Tohono O'odham Nation.

"Some holding cells are compared to large cages in the desert."

Racial profiling by law enforcement is blatant in Arizona, with complaints exposing Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

"For example, in March 2009, the U.S. Department of Justice announced an investigation into the Maricopa County (Arizona) Sheriff’s Office to determine whether law enforcement officials have engaged in 'patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.' Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been the subject of a number of complaints, including some from local city mayors and members of the U.S. Congress," the report states.

The report addresses the need for passage of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier and other issues which were either omitted or understated in the US State Dept.'s Periodic Review.

The US Human Rights Network report states, "The United States has not endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and has not taken satisfactory measures to address the CERD 2008 concluding observations and recommendations vis-à-vis Indigenous Peoples, or those made by the Human Rights Committee in its 2006 review. The CERD specifically raised concerns about: the incidence of rape and sexual violence experienced by American Indian and Alaska Native women; reports relating to activities, such as nuclear testing, toxic and dangerous waste storage, mining and logging, carried out or planned in areas of spiritual and cultural significance to indigenous peoples, and noted the negative impact those activities have on rights of indigenous peoples under Articles 5(d)(v), 5(e)(iv), and 5(e)(vi) of ICERD. The Human Rights Committee raised concerns about the lack of action on the
part of the United States to ensure judicial protections against the extinguishment of aboriginal rights on the basis of the plenary power of Congress regarding Indian affairs, and urged the United States to secure the rights of all indigenous peoples under Article 1 and 27 of the ICCPR to provide for greater participation and influence in the decision-making affecting their natural environment, means of subsistence, and culture."

Read full report:
US State Department's sham reporting of human rights abuses
Footnote; Not only was the US State Department's Periodic Review issued in August a sham, but the State Dept. summaries posted online are an insult to Native Americans who testified at the Listening Conferences, lacking names and pertinent information on the issues: