Human Rights in the U.S. 2022 Report

Preface from Comité Cerezo México

Source: Comité Cerezo México

To all the compañeros and compañeras that work or collaborate with the Alliance for Global Justice

Mexico City, April 12, 2022

Sending you a fraternal salute from every one of us that belong to the Comité Cerezo México, an organization that for more than 20 years has protected and promoted the defense of human rights.

Firstly, we would like to congratulate you for presenting your report on the human rights situation in the United States. We’d also like to share that it has been an honor to have been able to contribute in some manner to this publication.

For many years, the lives of millions of people across Latin America have been impacted by injustice and by the political repression and counterinsurgency policy promoted by the United States government. In the concept of human rights and specifically in the documentation of human rights violations, the people have found a tool to arrive at the truth about those responsible for policies that violate human rights, their objectives and beneficiaries; a tool to struggle for justice, for the integral reparation of damage, and to maintain alive the memory of the peoples’ struggles for their liberation from the yoke of Capital.

Wherever human rights violations exist, the documentation of those violations is a useful tool, even in the very bowels of the main exponent of imperialism in our times: the United States. A country as big and powerful as the blood, life, and labor of the working class and the peasant class upon whom it was erected still stands as a hegemonic force in the world.

It is of critical importance that the people of the United States of America come to know and utilize human rights as a tool for popular struggle. It was a pleasure for us to share our knowledge of this subject and we celebrate that AFGJ will launch its Human Rights School initiative in the U.S. this year. We think that knowing and mastering this tool is not an end unto itself, but fundamentally a means to achieving a dignified life for peoples all over the world.

In closing, we want to express that what we know and share about the subject of human rights is a result of the long struggle and theoretical development of Latin American peoples. Fundamentally, we are nurtured by all struggles, and if we have contributed anything, it’s all been due to the need and persistence of the struggle for the peoples’ dignity. Today, we must also learn from the heroic people of the United States with whom who we are united in our diverse histories of resistance and dreams of truth, justice, memory, and the integral reparation of damage.

Comité Cerezo México

Introduction from Gerald Horne

By Gerald Horne, historian and scholar of African American Studies

“On 17 December 1951, Black Communist attorney and activist, William L. Patterson, delivered the ‘We Charge Genocide’ Petition to the United Nations in Paris. Ten days later, the U.S. government moved to invalidate his passport.

This searing document, still worth reading and birthed in no small measure by Patterson’s comrade, Paul Robeson — the great artist and activist, the ‘tallest tree in our forest’ — was the product of a mass worldwide organizing campaign by their organization — the Civil Rights Congress — whose efforts were so intimidating to Washington that they were driven out of business by 1956.

Today the Alliance for Global Justice is not only walking in the gigantic footprints of CRC but also extending the call by Malcolm X before his tragic assassination in 1965 to internationalize the human rights struggle in the U.S. and the National Conference of Black Lawyers, which sought to do so in the 1970s.” (Read more)

Chapter 1: Racial inequality and white supremacy

Overview from Camille Landry (National Co-Coordinator)

Slavery in the U.S. was once called “the peculiar institution” but few things are more peculiar than the racism and white supremacy that prompted and fueled the trans-Atlantic slave trade, Jim Crow, and today’s spectacularly peculiar climate of racial animus that characterizes life in modern-day USA. This chapter analyzes several different iterations of racial bias and white supremacy in the U.S. today:

Together these articles paint part of a picture of racial oppression and inequality in the United States. They identify collective human rights violations as recognized by the international community and analyze their common underpinnings. They show the intersections between the economic, political, social, and personal oppressive systems that are the basis of every aspect of U.S life. They explain how race is the driving force in widespread human rights violations, even when race is not specifically mentioned in the laws and policies that created and maintain these conditions.

Violations of international human rights treaties & declarations

Violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Article 1: that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. 
  • Article 2: that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race. 
  • Article 3: that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security.
  • Article 4: that no one should be held in slavery or servitude.
  • Article 5: that no one should be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
  • Article 7: that all are equal before the law and entitled without discrimination to equal protection of the law.
  • Article 10: that everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing in the determination of their civil rights and obligations.
  • Article 11: that everyone charged with a penal offense has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
  • Article 17: that everyone has the right to own property, and no one should be deprived of their property.
  • Article 21: that everyone has the right to equal access to public service.
  • Article 23: that everyone has the right to employment, equal pay and economic conditions sufficient for a dignified existence.
  • Article 25: that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and wellbeing of themselves and their families, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and social services.
  • Article 26: that everyone has the right to an education and the full realization of their human development.

Article 4 of the United Nations’ Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination requires that countries “revise governmental and other public policies [and] rescind laws and regulations which have the effect of creating and perpetuating racial discrimination” and pass legislation for “prohibiting such discrimination,” particularly those that relate to the rights to education, employment, occupation and housing.

Chapter 2: A public health crisis

Coming soon

Chapter 3: Mass incarceration and a humanitarian crisis in U.S. prisons & detentions centers

Coming soon

Chapter 4: Border militarization and the criminalization of migration

Coming soon

Chapter 5: Indigenous communities at the frontlines of environmental struggles

Coming soon

Chapter 6: Labor exploitation and repression of workers’ rights

Overview from Maya Hernández (National Co-Coordinator)

The organized labor movement in the U.S. has been targeted in every way since its inception. Today, the movement is small (comprising just 10% of the total workforce), it’s frayed, and has faced insurmountable pushback from corporations. There are many reasons why unions have struggled to stay afloat; most notably is the fact that organizing workers doesn’t come naturally or easily when operating within the confines of political and economic structures designed to repress and dissuade rebellion. However, things are changing. As extreme economic inequality continues to build, so has the recognition among working people that unions, and union organizing, provides a safety net and protection from human rights violations. 

Throughout 2021, strikes and campaigns for unions spread fervently across the U.S. If 2021 taught workers anything, it’s that the labor market as it operates today does not work in their favor – that the market will never work in their favor as long as the exploitation and abuse of working people remains foundational to profit-making. The confluence of late capitalism and COVID-19 magnified issues already well on their way, chiefly the hyper-exploitation of so-called “essential workers” and workers in the gig economy by mega corporations that cashed in on the pandemic. This chapter analyzes emblematic case studies of present-day labor struggles and the movement to advance workers’ human rights in the U.S. 

Big businesses know they’re in violation of the rights inherent to all humans and workers. The rights owed to workers as stipulated in Articles 22, 23, and 24 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are unrecognizable in today’s workforce. The systemic violation of workers’ human rights attests to the need for collective transformational change, all of which can only be accomplished through direct worker-to-worker solidarity and an organized U.S. labor force.

Violations of international human rights treaties & declarations

Violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Article 22: that everyone has the right to social security and the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable to their dignity and the full realization of their human development.
  • Article 23: that everyone has the right to employment, equal pay and economic conditions sufficient for a dignified existence.
  • Article 24: that everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including the reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families is a multilateral treaty governing the protection of migrant workers and their families, signed in 1990 and entered into force in 2003. The treaty has 39 signatories and has been ratified by 20 states, most in the Global South; the United States (along with most countries in the Global North) isn’t one of them. Given that migrant workers comprise an increasingly significant portion of the U.S. labor force and the informal economy, the federal U.S. administration has a responsibility to recognize and ratify any treaty that promotes the human rights of workers and migrants.

Chapter 7: Struggle for disability rights

Coming soon

Chapter 8: Politically-targeted repression

Coming soon

April 2022 update: Political prisoners in the USA

Coming soon

Conclusion from Margaret Kimberley

Source: Kay Hickman Photography

By Margaret Kimberley, Executive Editor and Senior Columnist (Black Agenda Report)

The words human rights are used quite frequently but conditions around the world prove that they are rarely taken seriously. The United States, which claims to be a protector of human rights, has more people imprisoned, some two million, than any other country on earth. Yet it routinely accuses other nations that won’t bend to its will of being human rights abusers. The term has become a weapon of coercion, a means of intimidation. So much so that it will lose all meaning unless those of us who are serious about protecting human rights take up the charge.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a good starting point to determine when and how human rights should be respected and protected. The UDHR confirms that human beings have the right to life and liberty, fair trials, the presumption of innocence, freedom of thought and opinion, living wage work, housing, healthcare, and free education. It condemns arbitrary detention, torture, and any form of discrimination. The U.S. doesn’t do well by any of these metrics. It doesn’t support the rights of its own citizens and routinely deprives others of what it claims to lift up.” (Read more)

This report is part of a popular education initiative to expose & oppose U.S. human rights violations

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