Monday, November 8, 2010

We Are The World

At least we showed up this time.  Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council held a three-hour hearing on the United States’ human rights record, as part of its “Universal Periodic Review” of all member nations.  Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration had refused to participate.  President Obama, to his credit, sent a high-level delegation to appear before the 47-member council.  Countries hostile to the U.S. hammered on our detention policies at Guantanamo and the manner in which we are fighting terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.  U.S. officials countered that we were “turning the page” on Bush-era practices.  The U.S. delegation also heard repeated calls – from several countries, including our allies – to abolish the death penalty. Unfortunately, it could not be argued that we are turning this page.  More than 1,200 men and women have been put to death since the United States resumed executions in 1977.  And while 139 nations have abolished the death penalty in that time, we remain the only “western” country that still executes people.  The United States is consistently one of the countries that carries out the most executions every year.  In 2009, the top five were: Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, U.S. and China. 


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