In the context of the UPR, Amnesty International has made the following recommendations to the United States of America


International law and standards
    • To issue an Executive Order on human rights to ensure that the administration's Inter-Agency Working Group on Human Rights serves as a coordinating body among federal agencies and departments to enforce and implement the USA's human rights obligations; to make mandatory human rights impact assessments and studies to ensure government policies, pending legislation and regulations are consistent with US human rights obligations; to require that Inspectors General incorporate human rights obligations and analysis into their reviews and investigations of government agencies, policies and programmes; and to ensure collaboration between federal, state and local governments aimed at meeting the USA’s human rights obligations;
    • To embark upon a programme of ratification, and ensure implementation into domestic law, of human rights and other instruments, including CEDAW, CRC, ICESCR, OPCAT, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties;
    • To review existing US ratifications, with a view to withdrawing all reservations, understandings and declarations that serve to undermine compliance with the treaties or undermine their object and purpose;
    • To rrecognize the extraterritorial application of international human rights law to actions by US personnel vis-à-vis territories and individuals over which they exercise effective control, at all times, including during armed conflict;
    • To review all outstanding recommendations from UN treaty bodies and experts with a view to implementing them.


    • To expressly reject the theory that the USA can detain any individual anywhere in the world at any time, and hold them in detention indefinitely, on the premise that it is involved in an all-pervasive global and perpetual armed conflict against non-state actors, a theory that is inconsistent with international law;
    • To rely on ordinary criminal offences and procedures alone to justify detention of individuals who are unconnected to any ongoing international armed conflict as recognized by international law and are accused of essentially criminal conduct;
    • To achieve the closure of the Guantánamo detention facility without compromising human rights principles, including by bringing detainees to trial in independent and impartial courts applying international fair trial standards, or immediately releasing them;
    • To abandon military commissions as a forum for trials, and to use existing federal courts for prosecutions;
    • To ensure that detainees in US custody in Afghanistan have access to legal counsel and to courts to challenge the lawfulness of their detention, and that independent human rights monitors have access to the detainees;
    • To ensure that all transfers of detainees to the custody or territory of another state fully comply with international law, particularly obligations of non-refoulement, and to apply definitions at least as protective as those applied under international law;
    • To not rely on diplomatic assurances where there is a risk of human rights violations such as torture or other ill-treatment by the receiving state, and to ensure that effective independent judicial control of transfers is accessible to detainees and that recourse to their procedures has suspensive effect on any transfer, particularly where there is credible evidence that a detainee will face abuse after transfer;
    • To set up an independent commission of inquiry into all aspects of the USA’s detention and interrogation policies and practices since 11 September 2001. This must not block or delay the prosecution of any individuals against whom there is already sufficient evidence of wrongdoing;
    • To initiate effective independent criminal investigations, including into crimes under international law such as torture and enforced disappearance, committed by individuals acting for or on behalf of the USA;
    • To ensure that all victims of human rights violations have full access to remedy.


    • To meet its obligations under international law in relation to eliminating racial and other discrimination in all its forms, including laws and practices that may not be discriminatory in purpose, but in effect;
    • To address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including through further studies to determine the scope and nature of the problem;
    • To pass into law national legislation to bar racial profiling in law enforcement, with effective complaints and compliance procedures.


Ill-treatment in police custody, jails and prisons
    • To suspend the use of Tasers and similar devices in law enforcement unless strictly regulated and limited to situations where they are necessary to protect life and avoid resort to firearms;
    • To review conditions in federal supermax prisons and to develop national standards to ensure humane conditions in all such units, with adequate review and monitoring procedures;
    • To ensure that state and federal authorities ban the shackling of pregnant inmates, particularly women in labour, and to ensure that agencies that violate these laws are subject to appropriate sanctions; 
    • To increase investigations by the US Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division of ill-treatment in prisons and jails, and of police departments accused of a “pattern or practice” of abuses.


Death penalty
    • To ensure that state and federal authorities impose a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty nationwide; and that prosecutors in all jurisdictions cease pursuing death sentences.


Juvenile justice
    • To end the use of life imprisonment without parole for offenders under 18 years old at the time of the crime, and to review all existing sentences in order to ensure that any such convicted offender has the possibility of parole.


Detention of migrants
    • To detain migrants only in exceptional circumstances, with detention subject to judicial review and justified in each individual case; 
    • To ensure the adoption of enforceable human rights detention standards in all facilities that house immigration detainees, with effective oversight to ensure compliance;
    • To restore to immigration judges the discretion to consider the individual circumstances of each person coming before the court and to waive deportation when circumstances warrant it.


Maternal mortality
    • To ensure all women have equal access to timely and quality maternal health care services;
    • To ensure that no-one is denied access to health care services by policies or practices that have the purpose or effect of discriminating on grounds such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, indigenous status, immigration status or ability to pay;
    • To ensure that federal and state authorities implement programs to improve data collection and analysis in order to better identify and respond to issues contributing to maternal deaths.


Post-Katrina concerns
    • To abide by the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and recognize that all internally displaced persons have the right to return to their homes or places of origin; and to ensure that the principles of equality and non-discrimination are applied to resettlement and return;
    • To ensure that all Gulf Coast residents return to adequate housing and an environment consistent with the right to the highest attainable standard of health, and have equal access to education and the criminal justice system.


United States of America: Amnesty International's submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review

Other Amnesty International documents on the United States of America


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