August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Indigenous Peoples and countries expose scam US Periodic Review

The United States' attempt to posture before the world failed in Geneva, as countries exposed the truth about the United States government, its corporations and military

By Brenda Norrell
Photo: Two issues the US attempted to ignore at the US Periodic Review at the UN Nov. 5, 2010: Torture and the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier: Photo: Political prisoners rally at the Democratic National Convention in Denver 2008/Photo copyright Brenda Norrell
Updated Nov. 12, 2010
The first ever US Periodic Review on Human Rights to the United Nations, delivered Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, in Geneva, failed Native Americans with a pathetic brief summary that ignored the United States far reaching and ongoing genocide of American Indians.

Countries from around the world lined up in Geneva to document the United States’ ongoing torture in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the US phony war on terrorism and US racial profiling leading to the deaths of migrants by US officers at the US/Mexico border. Countries challenged the US for ongoing hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs and South Asians.

As countries challenged the US continued use of torture, assassinations and kidnapping, neither President Obama nor Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were present in Geneva to justify the torture and unjust imprisonments. George Bush and Dick Cheney, popularized by the media and book tours, were not present to be held responsible for their use of torture or creation of laws enabling US torture.

Although the US attempted to ignore the rights of Native Americans, other countries focused on the failure of the US to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

US officials in Geneva responded to Australia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany and Norway, about the failure to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and said it is reveiwing its position.

Bolivia also pressed for adoption of the Declaration and prosecution of those responsible for torture. Further, Bolivia, where President Evo Morales is leading Indigenous in climate change efforts, recommended to the US: "Implement the necessary reforms to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and cooperate with the international community to mitigate threats against human rights resulting from climate change."
In Mexico’s advance questions, Mexico pointed out the ongoing racial profiling in the United States and the role of law enforcement. It also challenged the US to investigate deaths in custody. Further, it questioned the use of lethal force at the US Mexico border and the execution of Mexican nationals in violation of international law.

This issue of US torture was the primary issue that dominated the questions from around the world. In particular, Mexico asked the US about the provisions of its Army operations manual and violations of human rights.

The School of Americas’ operations manual, made public in 1996, was used to train Latin American military officers for decades, resulting in the torture, mutilation, rape and assassination of peoples, including tens of thousands of Indigenous Peoples, throughout the Americas.

Even today, a protest is planned at Fort Huachuca Army Intelligence Center in southern Arizona, where the School of Americas’ torture manual was published. In the annual protest at Fort Huachuca, to be held this weekend, Nov. 14, human rights activists point out the ongoing role of Fort Huachuca. Drones continue to kill civilians, and are used for US rogue assassinations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fort Huachuca officers have not been held responsible for their role in the torture at Abu Ghraib.

In advance questions, Mexico asked the US at the UN: “What mechanisms does the US have in place to periodically review the provisions of the Army operations manual are compatible with International human rights norms and international humanitarian law, in particular on measures to prevent and punish torture?”

Mexico questioned why local law enforcement now has the authority to enforce immigration laws, when only the US federal government has this authority.

In preparation for the review, the United States wasted the time and money of Native Americans, asking people to travel to Listening Conferences to testify about human rights abuses in the US. Nearly all of the testimony was ignored by the United States State Department in its final report to the United Nations.

While the US ignored or minimized its own human rights abuses, the United Nations compiled the documents from independent sources.

The United Nations has compiled summaries and a list of the Stakeholders. Stakeholders include the Western Shoshone, fighting Barrick Gold mining on sacred land at Mount Tenabo in Nevada, and the Navajos, long targeted by Peabody Coal mining for destruction of its land, air and water. Navajos demanded a halt to the relocation of Dine’ and other Indigenous Peoples from their homelands. Havasupai and Hualapai were among those documenting the uranium mining now threatening the pristine water and land in their homeland, the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The independent US Human Rights Network has also published an extensive document on the US human rights abuses, including the abuse of sacred land and the extensive ongoing uranium mining targeting Lakotas and others Indian Nations.

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 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."

Still, many of those who testified wasted their money traveling to the so-called Listening Conferences, because their testimony was not included in the summary. The US State Department has placed its pathetic summary online, which lacks names and key issues.

Since many victims of the United States policy of genocide, including the poor and people of color, lack access to the Internet, they were never informed that the US was collecting information on its abuses of them.

As countries challenged the US record of human rights in Geneva, the country of India pointed out the racism that leads to the high rate of imprisonment of blacks. It also pointed out the sexual harassment of women in the military.

The rape of US soldiers, by fellow US soldiers, in Iraq and Afghanistan is one of the most censored issues.

India said it is "concerned about human rights abuses by business corporations and inquired about the United States’ position on its Alien Tort Claims Act. It was concerned at the sexual harassment of women in the United States military and the disproportionately high conviction rates for African-Americans, as well as their low access to education, health and employment."

While the US failed Native Americans with a pathetic US Periodic Review, American Indians and the countries of the world have documented, and continue to document, the ongoing human rights abuses which the US mainstream media and US government censors.

As countries challenged the US on the promised closure of Guantanamo, Brazil challenged the US on its human rights abuses under the guise of counter-terrorism and Vietnam pointed out the discrimination toward migrants in the US.

There were these two poignant comments, challenging the US in Geneva, as stated in the UN draft summary from Nov. 5.

Plurinational State of Bolivia: "Implement concrete measures consistent with the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to ensure the participation of indigenous peoples in the decisions affecting their natural environment, measures of subsistence, culture and spiritual practices."

"The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was concerned at, inter alia, the racial discrimination and intolerance against persons with African, Arab Islamic and Latin American origins, the denial of the indigenous community of their rights, human rights violations resulting from its policies of occupation and invasion and the imposition of blockades. It was concerned over the large number of prisoners at Guantanamo, deprived of their right to a fair trial."

PHOTO TOP: US torture and the imprisonment of Leonard Peltier were two issues the US attempted to conceal at the United Nations on Nov. 5, 2010. Photo: Political Prisoners Rally, Democratic National Convention 2008 Denver, by Brenda Norrell.

UN Draft Summary of proceedings on Nov. 5 in Geneva:
• (Paragraph 95 of the national report states that "only the federal government has the authority to establish and enforce immigration laws") What steps has the U.S. government taken to prevent the proliferation of cooperation initiatives with local authorities to implement schemes such as immigration legislation under Cooperation Agreements with the Communities to Improve Security (ICE ACCESS) - which include Memoranda of Understanding 287 g and the Safe Communities Program?
• Under the Safe Communities Program, what specific safeguards, including measures for the collection of data, has the U.S. Government taken to ensure that local jurisdictions that are part of the Program, avoid the implementation of practices aimed at increasing arrests on the basis of racial or national origin profiling, subsequently discharging minor offences ¿? that led to the initial arrest for the sole purpose of making a subsequent deportation?
• What legal remedies, whether local or federal, are available for individuals who allege to be victims of abuses by state and local authorities who are acting to implement federal laws?
• What actions have been taken by the U.S. Government to reduce the number of deaths of persons in immigration custody and to investigate the occurring ones, and to improve the medical services provided in immigration detention centers?
On the excessive use of force by immigration officials:
• What measures have been taken by the U.S. Government to regulate the proportional use of force when performing immigration enforcement duties, particularly to reduce the use of lethal force along territorial borders?
• To what extent such measures are in accordance with the provisions of International instruments to which the U.S. is a State party?
• (The national report notes in paragraph 54, the willingness of the USG to comply with its obligations under the Avena case of the International Court of Justice.) What future measures are envisaged by the Government of the United States to comply with the Avena Judgment of the International Court of Justice and especially to prevent the execution of Mexican nationals in violation of this ruling? b) what are the persisting obstacles that hinder the
undertaking of the review and reconsideration of the death penalty sentences of Mexican nationals who are covered by the ruling?
• What measures or actions have been taken by the the United States to request state governments to take into consideration recommendations or injunctions issued by international and regional bodies related to human rights violations of those sentenced to death?
• What obstacles does the United States face for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and what measures have been undertaken to address them?
• Does the United States have the intention to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention,?
• ¿Se contempla que Estados Unidos ratifique igualmente el Protocolo Facultativo de la Convención, a fin de reconocer la competencia del Comité sobre los Derechos de las Personas con Discapacidad?
• What guarantees does the US have to allow the free association of migrant workers, including undocumented migrants, and to prevent immigration laws and policies from being used as threats or obstacles to hamper freedom of peaceful assembly and association?
• Bearing in mind that that there are provisions of international human rights that law that are non derogable under any circumstances, how does the United States ensure compliance with those norms in the armed forces activities, including in situations of armed conflict?
• What mechanisms does the US have in place to periodically review the provisions of the Army operations manual are compatible with International human rights norms and international humanitarian law, in particular on measures to prevent and punish torture?

Excerpt: United Nations summary of US human rights documentation:
EXCERPT, page 8 -- 9:
9. Minorities and indigenous peoples
69. Nation of Hawai’i recommended securing the rights of all indigenous peoples under
ICCPR.114 FPHRC noted that, as a Member of the Human Rights Council, the US should
set a positive example in upholding Indigenous people’s human rights.115
70. According to the Navajo Nation, and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission
(NNHRC) the US continues to deprive indigenous peoples of their right to equal protection
under law.116
71. International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) recommended questioning the US about:
the failure to comply with the CERD and the IACHR decision regarding the Western
Shoshone; the destruction, desecration of, and denial of access to Indigenous Sacred Areas;
the failure to consult with Indigenous Peoples and to acquire their free, prior and informed
consent regarding matters that directly affect their interests; the unilateral termination of
Treaties with Indigenous Peoples; and the failure to implement a process to address
violations of these Treaties.117
72. Southeast Indigenous Peoples’ Center (SIPC) noted that though the Constitution
says that it will deal with ’Indian Tribes’ as nations, the US does not negotiate with
indigenous peoples.118
73. The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) noted that the Havasupai and Hualapai
tribes have struggled for decades for the protection of their land from mining and expressed
concern at the risk of radioactive pollution.
74. American Indians Rights and Resources Organization made reference to the impact
of the disenrollment and banishment of Indians from their tribes.119
75. Akiak Native Community indicated that the indigenous people are still devastated by
the culture and traditions forcibly induced to the indigenous people.120
Displacement of Navajos and all Indigenous Peoples:
83. Diné Homeowners & Communities Association recommended prohibiting forced
relocation of indigenous people in the Americas.133
Download or print the UN summary at:
Note: Although the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee and other key organizations are listed as "Stakeholders," their issues are not included in the United Nations' summary.
1 The stakeholders listed below have contributed information for this summary; the full texts of all original submissions are available at: . (One asterisk denotes a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.)
Read more from the stakeholders and advance questions from other countries:
Civil society
ABA American Bar Association*, USA;
AC Accountability Counsel, USA
ACNU Asociación Cubana de las Naciones Unidas*, Cuba;
AFRE All For Reparations and Emancipation*, USA;
AHR Advocates for Human Rights*, Minnesota, USA;
AI Amnesty International *, UK;
AIJ The Association of Iraqi Jurists, Iraq;
AIRRO American Indians Rights and Resources Organization, USA;
AMSI-ABMA Joint submission No. 22 - Human Rights Division of the Association
of Muslims Scholars in Iraq - Al-Basaer Media Association, Iraq;
ANC Tribal Council of the Akiak Native Community, USA;
ANEC Asociación Nacional de Economistas y Contadores, Cuba;
APSA Atlanta Public Sector Alliance, USA;
Becket Fund The Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty*, USA;
CCERF Conservation Centre of Environmental and Reserves in Iraq, Iraq;
CEA Centro de Estudios sobre América, Cuba;
CESR Center for Economic and Social Rights*, USA;
C-FAM Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, USA;
CGE Joint Submission No. 1 – The Council for Global Equality, USA;
CHRGJ Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, USA;
CISV Charitable Institute for Social Victims*, Iran;
COHRE Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions*, Geneva (Switzerland);
CONFEDERACY Haudenosaunee Confederacy Grand Council, USA;
CPTI Conscience and Peace Tax International*, Leuven (Belgium);
CSN Joint Submission No. 2 - Charity and Security Network, USA;
CURE Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants*, USA;
DHCA The Diné Homeowners & Communities Association, USA;
DREDF Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, USA;
Dui Hua The Dui Hua Foundation*, USA;
Earth Rights Earth Rights International* , USA;
EDM Episcopal Diocese of Maine, USA;
ERI Edmund Rice International, Geneva (Switzerland);
FFF Four Freedoms Forum, USA;
FLOC-OXFAM Joint Submission No. 21 – Farm Labor Organizing Committee
FMC Federación de Mujeres Cubanas, Cuba;
FPHRC First Peoples Human Rights Coalition, USA;
GFIW- GWAF Joint submission No. 23- General Federation of Iraqi Women and
General Arab Women Federation, Iraq;
GJC Global Justice Center, USA;
HAWAII Nation of Hawaii, USA;
Heritage The Heritage Foundation, USA;
HRA Human Rights Advocates*, USA;
HRAlert Human Rights Alert, USA;
HRF Human Rights First*, USA;
HRW Human Rights Watch*, New York (USA);
ICHR Iraqi Commission for Human Rights, Baghdad (Iraq);
ICJ International Commission of Jurists*, Geneva (Switzerland);
ICTJ International Center for Transitional Justice, New York (USA);
IHRB Institute for Human Rights and Business, Geneva (Switzerland);
IHRLS International Human Rights Law Society, Indiana (USA);
IITC International Indian Treaty Council*, USA;
ITHACA Ithaca rights, USA;
JDI Just Detention International, USA;
JS-3 Joint Submission No. 3 - Franciscans International* ; the
International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the
Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and UNANIMA
International*, USA;
JS-4 Joint Submission No. 4 - Black Communities Process (Proceso de
Comunidades Negras –PCN), Colombia and AFRODES USA;
JS-5 Joint Submission No. 5 - Best Practices Policy Project, Desiree
Alliance, and the Sexual Rights Initiative;
JS-6 Joint Submission No. 6 - Indigenous Peoples and Nations Coalition
and the Koani Foundation;
JS-7 Joint Submission No. 7 - Institute for Redress & Recovery, The
Institute for Study of Psychosocial Trauma and the Heartland Alliance
Marjorie Kovler Center , USA;
JS-9 Joint Submission No. 9 - Minnesota Tenants Union , Minnesota
Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, Minnesota Coalition for a
Peoples’ Bailout, St. Paul Branch of the NAACP, USA;
JS-10 Joint Submission No. 10 - National Coalition for LGBT Health and
the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States,
JS-12 Joint Submission No. 12 - International Association against Torture*
and the December 12th Movement International Secretariat *, USA;
JS-13 Joint Submission No. 13 – Earthjustice*, Greenpeace USA; Human
Rights Advocates*; and Many Strong Voices USA;
JS-14 Joint Submission No. 14 - Medical Whistleblower Stakeholder
Advocacy Network, USA;
JS-19 Joint Submission No. 19 - Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant
Justice Center (NIJC); American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT); Chad Doobay (attorney
doing pro-bono representation to asylum seekers at National
Immigrant Justice Center); Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center
(FIAC); Denise Gilman (professor at the University of Texas School
of Immigration Clinic); Immigration Equality; Jewish Council on
Urban Affairs (JCUA); King Hall Immigrant Detention Project at
University of California Davis School of Law; Legal Aid Justice
Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program; Michigan Immigrant Rights
Center (MIRC); Midwest Coalition for Human Rights Physicians for
Human Rights (PHR); Dr. Mary White (volunteer with Physicians for
Human Rights); World Relief, USA;
JS-24 Joint submission No. 24 - Organization for Justice and Democracy in
Iraq (OJDI) and The International Organization for the Elimination of
All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD), Iraq;
JS-25 Joint submission No. 25 - The Iraqi Association Against War (IAAW)
and The Indian Movement (TUPAJ AMARU)*;
LIRS Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, USA;
LPDOC Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee, USA;
MCLI Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, USA;
MICJ Maria Iñamagua Campaign for Justice, USA;
MITA- CMP Joint Submission No. 20 - Indian Movement Tupaj Amaru *, Geneva
(Switzerland) and Consejo Mundial por la Paz,
MOVPAZ Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Solidaridad, * La Habana, Cuba;
NACG Native American Church of the Ghost Dancers, USA;
NAPW National Advocates for Pregnant Women , USA;
NAVAJO The Navajo Nation Department of Justice, USA;
NCBL National Conference of Black Lawyers, USA;
NIYC The National Indian Youth Council,* USA;
NNHRC Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, USA;
NOW West Virginia National Organization for Women ,* USA;
NWC National Whistleblowers Center, USA;
OAK Joint Submission No. 16 - Organizations Associating for the Kind of
Change America Really Needs, USA;
ODVV Organization for Defending Victims of Violence,* Iran;
OSPAAAL Organización de Solidaridad de los Pueblos de África, Asia y América
Latina, Cuba;
PEN International Pen*, London (United Kingdom) and PEN American
Center, USA;
PHR Physicians for Human Rights,* USA;
RCF The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, USA;
RI Refugees International,* USA;
SCHRD Studies Center of Human Rights and Democracy, Iraq;
SIPC Southeast Indigenous Peoples’ Center , USA;
STP Society for Threatened Peoples*, Göttingen (Deutschland);
The 5-11 Campaign The 5-11 Campaign, USA;
USHRN Joint Submission No. 17 - US Human Rights Network (23 annexes),
WILD The Women's Institute for Leadership Development for Human
Rights, USA;
WR Worldrights, USA;
WWA-OWO Joint submission No. 26 - Women’s Will Association and the
Organization for Widows and Orphans, Iraq;
YAMASI Yamasi People, USA;
YAMASSEE At-sik-hata Nation of Yamassee Moors, USA;
JS-8 Joint Submission No. 8 - International Human Rights Law Clinic,
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; Chief Justice Earl
Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, University of
California, Berkeley, School of Law; Immigration Law Clinic,
University of California, Davis, School of Law, USA;
JS-11 Joint Submission No. 11 - University of Arizona, Indigenous Peoples
Law & Policy Program; Western Shoshone Defense Project; Human
Rights Research Fund; First Peoples Human Rights Coalition, USA;
JS-15 Joint Submission No. 15 - International Human Rights Law Clinic,
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law; Chief Justice Earl
Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, University of
California, Berkeley, School of Law; Immigration Law Clinic,
University of California, Davis, School of Law, USA;
PIJIP-GAP Joint submission No. 18 - American University Washington College
of Law’s Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
(PIJIP) and Health Global Access Project (Health GAP), USA;
Also see: Advance Questions: Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
• CERD recommended, inter alia, that the US recognize the right of Native Americans to participate in decisions affecting them, and consult in good faith with them before adopting and implementing any activity in their lands, and that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be
used as a guide to interpret the State obligations under the Convention relating to indigenous peoples.
Germany would be grateful for information how the United States of America is following-up on this recommendation.
• What is the scope for endorsement of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ratification of ILO Convention 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries? Could a national human rights institution, established in accordance with the Paris Principles, help advance indigenous issues in the United States?