Human rights record of the United States

Updated: 2016-04-15 08:09

(China Daily)

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Gross Violations of Human Rights in Other Countries

In 2015, the United States continued to trample on human rights in other countries, causing tremendous civilian casualties.

Its overseas monitoring projects infringed on the privacy of citizens of other countries while torture scandals at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp continued. To date, the United States has not ratified some core human rights conventions of the United Nations and voted against some important human rights resolutions.

Air strikes caused a large number of civilian casualties. According to Airwars, a project aimed at tracking air strikes in the Middle East, the United States has repeatedly organized coalition forces to launch air strikes against military forces in Iraq and Syria since August 8, 2014. As of December 6, 2015, the United States launched 3,965 air strikes in Iraq and 2,823 in Syria, causing an estimated number of civilian deaths between 1,695 and 2,239 ( The Syrian government called U.S.-led coalition air strikes an "act of aggression" (, December 7, 2015). On October 3, 2015, a hospital run by aid group "Doctors Without Borders" in the city of Kunduz in Afghanistan was under a bombing that continued for half an hour. Many patients who were unable to move were killed on site, while some staff of the aid group were shot at from the air while fleeing the hospital. A total of 42 people were killed in the air strike, with some bodies charred beyond recognition (, December 12, 2015;, October 5, 2015).

Frequent use of drones claimed many innocent lives. According to an October 15, 2015 report run by Daily Mail website, when carrying out drone assassinations, the U.S. military used "phone data alone"-a limited way of guaranteeing a kill. During Operation Haymaker, a campaign in northeastern Afghanistan which ran between January 2012 and February 2013, some 219 people were killed by drones but just 35 were the intended targets. During another five-month stretch of the operation, a staggering 90 percent of those killed were not the intended target. Despite this all the deaths were labeled EKIA, or "enemy killed in action." (, October 15, 2015). A report posted on April 24, 2015 by The Washington Post on its website said a study, which documented 415 strikes in Pakistan and Yemen since the September 11, 2001 attacks, put the total number of killed civilians between 423 and 962 (, April 24, 2015). The abuse of drone strikes not only drew widespread criticism from international community, but also incurred strong doubt from U.S. scholars. The Washington Post posted an article on March 20, 2015, introducing to its readers two books on drones-Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, by Andrew Cockburn, and A Theory of the Drones, by Gregoire Chamayou. Cockburn sees America's killer drone policy as "the culmination of a historical pattern of lies, deception and greed in the deployment of lethal military force around the world" and as "a continuation of previous U.S. assassination policy." Failing miserably to achieve the country's stated goal of enhanced security, the policy simultaneously undermined the democratic process, Cockburn writes, noting that "assassination by robot is bound to inspire rather than curtail extremism." According to Chamayou and Cockburn, killer drone exposes the trend toward a new-and "inhumane form of warfare." "With drone warfare, there is no victory, just perpetual elimination." (, March 20, 2015).

Abuse of cruel torture trampled on human rights. A report by the U.S. Senate on the study of the Central Intelligence Agency's detention and interrogation program found that the CIA's use of brutal interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, long-term solitary confinement, slamming prisoners' heads into walls, lashing and death threat, were in serious violation of U.S. law ( While according to some witnesses, the CIA torture went far beyond the Senate report had disclosed.

Majid Khan, a Guantanamo Bay detainee-turned government cooperating witness, said interrogators poured ice water on his genitals, twice videotaped him naked and repeatedly touched his "private parts". At one point, Khan said, his feet and lower legs were placed in tall boot-like metal cuffs that dug into his flesh and immobilized his legs. The guards also stripped him naked, hung him from a wooden beam for three days and provided him with water but no food. All the above torture details that Khan had undergone were not included in the Senate report (, June 2, 2015). On January 11, 2016, human rights experts, including the UN special rapporteurs on torture Juan E. Mendez; on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson; on independence of the judiciary, Monica Pinto; Chair-Rapporteur of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Seong-Phil Hong; and the director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights under the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Michael Georg Link, together called on the U.S. Government to promptly close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, 14 years after the detention center became operational. The experts recalled in the letter that close to 100 detainees still languished in Guantanamo after years of arbitrary detention without trial (, January 11, 2016).

The United States spied on leaders from other countries. The BBC reported on April 30, 2015 that the U.S. National Security Agency, by working with other secret services, has long monitored on European leaders (, April 30, 2015). The Independent reported on June 24, 2015 that the United States had bugged the phones of three French presidents and many other senior French officials, for which a French government spokesman said was "unacceptable" (, June 24, 2015). Facing criticism from its allies, the U.S. government continued to monitor some leaders in the name of "national security purpose" (, December 30, 2015).

Though the United States repeatedly vowed to defend "human rights," it still has not ratified core human rights conventions of the UN, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The United States is the only country that is yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States also takes an uncooperative attitude towards international human rights issues. It often kept stalling or turned a deaf ear to criticisms leveled by the UN Human Rights Council special sessions and High Commissioners for Human Rights. On September 28, 2015 when the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution related to development right, the United States, as always, voted against it (

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