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US should reflect on its own human right record

By Shen Dingli (People's Daily Online)    14:50, May 14, 2015
People protest for Freddie Gray in Baltimore. (Photo/Xinhuanet)

Lately, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has run a review on US human rights. This was the second time the US has been subject to a review since this program began in 2008. Representatives of 122 countries criticized the US for its problems in human rights and proposed suggestions. Criticisms were mostly directed towards problems like excessive law-enforcement by US police, discrimination on the basis of race, religion, and gender, abuse and torture, and Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

Based on the US government's own reports, there has been much misconduct by US police officers in the past few years. The US Department of Justice has proceeded against 335 police officers for misconduct in the past 5 years, and by the beginning of this year 254 of them had been convicted. Last month in South Carolina, white policeman Slager shot dead black citizen Scott; in the same month, another black man Freddie Gray died after being taken into police custody and sustaining a mysterious spinal injury. In this case the Jury pressed second-degree murder charges against 6 policemen who were involved in the incident.

In the name of counter-terrorism, the US set up cells in Guantanamo Bay, where it tried to evade US and International Law as it abused and tortured suspects and criminals. Though prisoner abuse has already been verified by the US Congress, US executive departments are still defending their misdoings. President Obama promised 7 years ago when he was running for the presidency that if elected, he would shut down Guantanamo Bay detention camp. However, the Guantanamo matter remains unsettled today.

For all that it is the most developed country in the world, human rights issues remain in US society. In the past, native Americans' rights were infringed, and slavery was rife. The "natural rights of man" that the US has long been asserting have not applied equally to minorities. Though slavery was abolished one and half centuries ago, racial segregation still existed for another 100 years afterwards. Even today, minority groups, especially African Americans, are still disadvantaged in so many ways - living conditions, the jobs market, education, and medical care for example.

The UN will draft a report on US human rights after this review. It is the responsibility of the US to take real actions to solve its problems. After this review, the US should not only reflect on its own human rights issues and correct them, but also should reflect on its superior attitude in meddling in other countries' problems. Until the US has properly recognized its own issues on human rights, it is impertinent for it to question and criticize other countries.

Now it is time for the United States, which has apparently has become too accustomed to the role of judge in human rights, to start to revalue itself and respect other countries. 

This article is edited and translated from 《人权问题,美国应该好好反省》,source: People's Daily, author: Shen Dingli

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