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Leslie Griffith: U.S. Quietly Breaks UN Treaty

U.S. Quietly Breaks UN Treaty

By Leslie Griffith
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

On Friday, at a United Nations meeting in Geneva, the United States broke a series of legal promises. Keeping those promises would have proved extremely embarrassing to the United States government by pointing out that human rights abuses are being committed here at home and at US military installations abroad.

In 1994, the United States Senate ratified the UN CONVENTION ON ELIMINATION OF all forms OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION, promising to provide reports every two years on racial discrimination in the United States. The reports were to include anywhere in the world where the US military is in charge. In other words, the United States military, no matter where it was on the globe, agreed to report discrimination. That now includes Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

The treaty is the "supreme law of the land" under the US Constitution, article 6, clause 2. Every nation that signed the treaty (one hundred seventy-seven) was charged with giving a national report on such basic areas of discrimination as health care, education and prison terms. According to the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute and the National Lawyers Guild, the United States on Friday presented a report to the United Nations Committee, never mentioning Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo or the behavior of US corporations working under US military contracts.

Instead, US officials presented facts on the federal level explaining (for instance) how much money was given to education, how much money was supplied to prisons, etc. Only four states: Oregon, Illinois, New Mexico and South Carolina, were mentioned, and officials in those states who were contacted by local activists say they never received any phone calls of inquiry by government officials.

At least one hundred human rights groups were represented in Geneva on Friday, anxious to hear what the government had to say about racism here at home and abroad.

According to the founder of the Meiklejohn Institute, Ann Fagan Ginger, her organization's independent report - also delivered in Geneva on Friday - provides statistics on racism toward Katrina victims, as well as discrepancies in life expectancy and other health care problems among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Native Americans. In regard to US military interrogation centers, Wayne County [Michigan] Circuit Court Judge Claudia Morcom, (retired) representing the Meiklejohn Institute, told UN officials in Geneva what the world now knows.

The basic racism practiced by the US military in both Abu Ghraib and in the detention centers of Guantanamo includes torture, degradation and illegal detention of hundreds of prisoners in these two facilities, based on race, nationality, ethnicity and religions of those arrested.

Meiklejohn founder, attorney Ann Fagan Ginger, wrote, "There is no way any US citizen will be safe, even if Caucasian and native born, if the United States government can treat human beings as the US military has treated the men it sent to those two facilities."

If only someone were listening.

To view the report:


Leslie Griffith has been a journalist in newspaper, radio and television for 25 years. One of her first assignments was in Moscow during the cold war. Griffith has earned two Edward R. Murrow awards; nine Emmys; 37 Emmy nominations; the prestigious Casey Medal for helping to stop the exploitation of the nation's children; seven Radio Television and News Directors Association awards; the 2006 People's Choice Award for Best Anchor in Oakland Magazine, and the 2005 Associated Press Anchor of the Year. Griffith received commendation from The Associated Press for being the first to confirm on September 11, 2001, that the passengers on Flight 93 fought back. Griffith won the National Genesis Award for exposing abuse at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in 2005. Griffith is currently working on a book about corporate censorship of the media called "Shut-up and Read." To reach Griffith, go to

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