Editor’s note: China’s Information Office of the State Council, or cabinet, published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010” on Sunday. Following is the full text:
The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 on April 8, 2011. As in previous years, the reports are full of distortions and accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China. However, the United States turned a blind eye to its own terrible human rights situation and seldom mentioned it. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010 is prepared to urge the United States to face up to its own human rights issues.
I. On Life, Property and Personal Security
The United States reports the world’s highest incidence of violent crimes, and its people’s lives, properties and personal security are not duly protected.
Every year, one out of every five people is a victim of a crime in the United States. No other nation on earth has a rate that is higher (10 Facts About Crime in the United States that Will Blow Your Mind, Beforitsnews.com). In 2009, an estimated 4.3 million violent crimes, 15.6 million property crimes and 133,000 personal thefts were committed against US residents aged 12 or older, and the violent crime rate was 17.1 victimizations per 1,000 persons, according to a report published by the US Department of Justice on Oct 13, 2010 (Criminal Victimization 2009, US Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov). The crime rate surged in many cities in the US. St. Louis in Missouri reported more than 2,070 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, making it the nation’s most dangerous city (The Associated Press, Nov 22, 2010). Detroit residents experienced more than 15,000 violent crimes each year, which means the city has 1,600 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. The United States’ four big cities – Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York – reported increases in murders in 2010 from the previous year (USA Today, December 5, 2010). Twenty-five murder cases occurred in Los Angeles County in a week from March 29 to April 4, 2010; and in the first half of 2010, 373 people were killed in murders in Los Angeles County (www.lapdonline.org). As of Nov 11, New York City saw 464 homicide cases, up 16 percent from the 400 reported at the same time last year (The Washington Post, Nov 12, 2010).
The US exercised lax control on the already rampant gun ownership. Reuters reported on Nov 10, 2010 that the United States ranks first in the world in terms of the number of privately-owned guns. Some 90 million people own an estimated 200 million guns in the United States, which has a population of about 300 million. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled on June 28, 2010 that the second amendment of the US Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms that can not be violated by state and local governments, thus extending the Americans’ rights to own a gun for self-defense purposes to the entire country (The Washington Post, June 29, 2010). Four US states – Tennessee, Arizona, Georgia and Virginia – allow loaded guns in bars. And 18 other states allow weapons in restaurants that serve alcohol (The New York Times, Oct 3, 2010). Tennessee has nearly 300,000 handgun permit holders. The Washington Times reported on June 7, 2010 that in November 2008, a total of 450,000 more people in the United States purchased firearms than had bought them in November 2007. This was a more than 10-fold increase, compared with the change in sales from November 2007 over November 2006. From November 2008 to October 2009, almost 2.5 million more people bought guns than had done so in the preceding 12 months (The Washington Times, June 7, 2010). The frequent campus shootings in colleges in the United States came to the spotlight in recent years. The United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph reported on Feb 21, 2011 that a new law that looks certain to pass through the legislature in Texas, the United States, would allow half a million students and teachers in its 38 public colleges to carry guns on campus. It would become only the second state, after Utah, to enforce such a rule.
The United States had high incidence of gun-related blood-shed crimes. Statistics showed there were 12,000 gun murders a year in the United States (The New York Times, Sept 26, 2010). Figures released by the US Department of Justice on Oct 13, 2010 showed weapons were used in 22 percent of all violent crimes in the United States in 2009, and about 47 percent of robberies were committed with arms (www.ojp.usdoj.gov, Oct 13, 2010). On March 30, 2010, five men killed four people and seriously injured five others in a deadly drive-by shooting (The Washington Post, April 27, 2010). In April, six separate shootings occurred overnight, leaving 16 total people shot, two fatally (www.myfoxchicago.com). On April 3, a deadly shooting at a restaurant in North Hollywood, Los Angeles, left four people dead and two others wounded (www.nbclosangeles.com, April 4, 2010). One person was killed and 21 others wounded in separate shootings around Chicago roughly between May 29 and 30 (www.chicagobreakingnews.com, May 30, 2010). In June, 52 people were shot at a weekend in Chicago (www.huffingtonpost.com, June 21, 2010). Three police officers were shot dead by assailants in the three months from May to July (Chicago Tribune, July 19, 2010).
A total of 303 people were shot and 33 of them were killed in Chicago in the 31 days of July in 2010. Between Nov 5 and 8, four people were killed and at least five others injured in separate shootings in Oakland (World Journal, Nov 11, 2010). On Nov 30, a 15-year-old boy in Marinette County, Wisconsin, took his teacher and 24 classmates hostage at gunpoint (abcNews, Nov 30, 2010). On Jan 8, 2011, a deadly rampage critically wounded US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six people were killed and 12 others injured in the attack (Los Angeles Times, Jan 9, 2011).
II. On Civil and Political Rights
In the United States, the violation of citizens’ civil and political rights by the government is severe.
Citizen’ s privacy has been undermined. According to figures released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in September 2010, more than 6,600 travelers had been subject to electronic device searches between Oct 1, 2008 and June 2, 2010, nearly half of them American citizens. A report on The Wall Street Journal on Sept 7, 2010, said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was sued over its policies that allegedly authorize the search and seizure of laptops, cellphones and other electronic devices without a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. The policies were claimed to leave no limit on how long the DHS can keep a traveler’ s devices or on the scope of private information that can be searched, copied or detained. There is no provision for judicial approval or supervision. When Colombian journalist Hollman Morris sought a US student visa so he could take a fellowship for journalists at Harvard University, his application was denied on July 17, 2010, as he was ineligible under the “terrorist activities” section of the USA Patriot Act. An Arab American named Yasir Afifi, living in California, found the FBI attached an electronic GPS tracking device near the right rear wheel of his car. In August, ACLU, joined by the Asian Law Caucus and the San Francisco Bay Guardian weekly, had filed a lawsuit to expedite the release of FBI records on the investigation and surveillance of Muslim communities in the Bay Area. The San Francisco FBI office has declined to comment on the matter “because it’ s still an ongoing investigation.” (The Washington Post, Oct 13, 2010). In October 2010, the Transportation Security Administration raised the security level at US airports requiring passengers to go through a full-body scanner machine or pat-downs. It also claimed that passengers can not refuse the security check based on their religious beliefs. Civil rights groups contended the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches (AP, Nov 16, 2010). The ACLU and the U.S. Travel Association have been getting thousands of complaints about airport security measures (The Christian Science Monitor, Nov 20, 2010).
Abuse of violence and torturing suspects to get confession is serious in the US law enforcement. According to a report of Associated Press on Oct 14, 2010, the New York Police Department (NYPD) paid about $964 million to resolve claims against its officers over the past decade. Among them was a case that an unarmed man was killed in a 50-bullet police shooting on his wedding day. The three police officers were acquitted of manslaughter and the NYDP simply settled the case with money (China Press, Oct 15, 2010). In a country that boasts “judicial justice,” what justice did the above-mentioned victims get? In June 2010, a federal jury found former Chicago police lieutenant Jon Burge guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Burge and officers under his command shocked, suffocated and burned suspects into giving confessions in the 1970s and 1980s (The Boston Globe, Nov 5, 2010). According to a report on Chicago Tribune on May 12, 2010, Chicago Police was charged with arresting people without warrants, shackling them to the wall or metal benches, feeding them infrequently and holding them without bathroom breaks and giving them no bedding, which were deemed consistent with tactics of “soft torture” used to extract involuntary confessions. On March 22, a distraught homeless man was shot dead in Potland, Oregon, by four shots from a police officer (China Press, April 1, 2010). An off-duty Westminster police officer was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping and raping a woman on April 3 while a corrections officer was accused of being an accessory (Los Angeles Times, April 6, 2010). On April 17 in Seattle, Washington, a gang detective and patrol officer kicked a suspect and verbally assaulted him (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, May 10, 2010). On March 24, Chad Holley, 15, was brutally beaten by eight police officers in Houston. The teen claimed he was face down on the ground while officers punched him in the face and kneed him in the back. After a two-month-long investigation, four officers were indicted and fired (Houston Chronicle, May 4, June 23, 2010).
On Aug 11, three people were injured by police shooting when police officers chased a stolen van in Prince George’ s County. Family members of the three injured argued why the police fired into the van when nobody on the van fired at them (The Washington Post, Aug 14, 2010). On September 5, 2010, a Los Angeles police officer killed a Guatemalan immigrant by two shots and triggered a large scale protest. Police clashed with protesters and arrested 22 of them (The New York Times, Sept 8, 2010). On Nov 5, 2010, a large demonstration took place in Oakland against a Los Angeles court verdict which put Johannes Mehserle, a police officer, to two years in prison as he shot and killed unarmed African American Oscar Grant two years ago. Police arrested more than 150 people in the protest (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov 9, 2010).
The United States has always called itself “land of freedom,” but the number of inmates in the country is the world’ s largest. According to a report released by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project in 2008, one in every 100 adults in the US are in jail and the figure was one in every 400 in 1970. By 2011, America will have more than 1.7 million men and women in prison, an increase of 13 percent over that of 2006. The sharp increase will lead to overcrowding prisons. California prisons now hold 164,000 inmates, double their intended capacity (The Wall Street Journal, Dec 1, 2010). In a New Beginnings facility for the worst juvenile offenders in Washington DC, only 60 beds are for 550 youths who in 2009 were charged with the most violent crimes. Many of them would violate the laws again without proper care or be subject to violent crimes (The Washington Post, Aug 28, 2010). Due to poor management and conditions, unrest frequently occurred in prisons. According to a report on Chicago Tribune on July 18, 2010, more than 20 former Cook County inmates filed suit saying they were handcuffed or shackled during labor while in the custody, leaving serious physical and psychological damage. On Oct 19, 2010, at least 129 inmates took part in a riot at Calipatria State Prison, leaving two dead and a dozen injured (China Press, Oct 20, 2010). In November, AP released a video showing an inmate, being beaten by a fellow inmate in an Idaho prison, managed to plead for help through a prison guard station window but officers looked on and no one intervened until he was knocked unconscious. The prison was dubbed “gladiator school” (China Press, Nov 2, 2010).
Wrongful conviction occurred quite often in the United States. In the past two decades, a total of 266 people were exonerated through DNA tests, among them 17 were on death row (Chicago Tribune, July 11, 2010). A report from The Washington Post on April 23, 2010, said Washington DC Police admitted 41 charges they raised against a 14-year-old boy, including four first-degree murders, were false and the teen never confessed to any charge. Police of Will County, Illinois, had tortured Kevin Fox to confess the killing of his three-year-old daughter and he had served eight months in prison before a DNA test exonerated him. Similar case happened in Zion, Illinois, that Jerry Hobbs were forced by the police to confess the killing of his eight-year-old daughter and had been in prison for five years before DNA tests proved his innocence. Barry Gibbs had served 19 years in prison when his conviction of killing a prostitute in 1986 was overturned in 2005 and received $9.9 million from New York City government in June 2010 (The New York Times, June 4, 2010).
The US regards itself as “the beacon of democracy.” However, its democracy is largely based on money. According to a report from The Washington Post on Oct 26, 2010, US House and Senate candidates shattered fundraising records for a midterm election, taking in more than $1.5 billion as of Oct 24. The midterm election, held in November 2010, finally cost $3.98 billion, the most expensive in the US history. Interest groups have actively spent on the election. As of Oct 6, 2010, the $80 million spent by groups outside the Democratic and Republican parties dwarfed the $16 million for the 2006 midterms. One of the biggest spenders nationwide was the American Future Fund from Iowa, which spent $7 million on behalf of Republicans in more than two dozen House and Senate races. One major player the 60 Plus Association spent $7 million on election related ads. The American Federation of States, County and Municipal Employees spent $103.9 million on the campaigns from Oct 22 to 27 (The New York Times, Nov 1, 2010). US citizens have expressed discontent at the huge cost in the elections. A New York Times/CBS poll showed nearly 8 in 10 US citizens said it was important to limit the campaign expense (The New York Times, Oct 22, 2010).
While advocating Internet freedom, the US in fact imposes fairly strict restriction on cyberspace. On June 24, 2010, the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, which will give the federal government “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under a declared national emergency. Handing government the power to control the Internet will only be the first step towards a greatly restricted Internet system, whereby individual IDs and government permission would be required to operate a website (Prison Planet.com, June 25, 2010). The United States applies double standards on Internet freedom by requesting unrestricted “Internet freedom” in other countries, which becomes an important diplomatic tool for the United States to impose pressure and seek hegemony, and imposing strict restriction within its territory. An article on BBC on Feb 16, 2011 noted the US government wants to boost Internet freedom to give voices to citizens living in societies regarded as “closed” and questions those governments’ control over information flow, although within its borders the US government tries to create a legal frame to fight the challenge posed by Wikileaks. The US government might be sensitive to the impact of the free flow of electronic information on its territory for which it advocates, but it wants to practice diplomacy by other means, including the Internet, particularly the social networks.
An article on the U.S.-based Foreign Policy Magazine admitted that the US government’s approach to the Internet remains “full of problems and contradictions” (Foreign Policy Magazine website, Feb 17, 2011)
III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
The United States is the world’s richest country, but Americans’ economic, social and cultural rights protection is going from bad to worse.
Unemployment rate in the United States has been stubbornly high. From December 2007 to October 2010, a total of 7.5 million jobs were lost in the country (The New York Times, Nov 19, 2010). According to statistics released by the US Department of Labor on Dec 3, 2010, the US unemployment rate edged up to 9.8 percent in November 2010, and the number of unemployed persons was 15 million in November, among whom, 41.9 percent were jobless for 27 weeks and more (data.bls.gov). The jobless rate of California in January 2010 was 12.5 percent, its worst on record. Unemployment topped 20 percent in eight California counties (The Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2010). Unemployment rate of New York State was 8.3 percent in October 2010. There were nearly 800,000 people unemployed statewide, and about 527,000 people were collecting unemployment benefits from the state (The New York Times, Nov 19, 2010). Employment situation for the disabled was worse. According to statistics released by the US Department of Labor on Aug 25, 2010, the average unemployment rate for disabled workers was 14.5 percent in 2009, and nearly a third of workers with disabilities worked only part-time. The jobless rate for workers with disabilities who had at least a bachelor’s degree was 8.3 percent, which was higher than the 4.5 percent rate for college-educated workers without disabilities (The Wall Street Journal, Aug 26, 2010). The unemployment rate for those with disabilities had risen to 16.4 percent as of July 2010 (The Wall Street Journal, Aug 26, 2010). In 2009, more than 21,000 disabled people complained to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about their experience of employment discrimination, an increase of 10 percent and 20 percent over the numbers of 2008 and 2007 (The World Journal, Sept 25, 2010).
Proportion of American people living in poverty has risen to a record high. The US Census Bureau reported on Sept 16, 2010 that a total of 44 million Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, four million more than that of 2008. The share of residents in poverty climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level recorded since 1994 (The New York Times, Sept 17, 2010). In 2009, Mississippi’s poverty rate was 23.1 percent (www.census.gov). Florida had a total of 27 million people living in poverty (The Washington Post, Sept 19, 2010). In New York City, 18.7 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2009, as an additional 45,000 people fell below the poverty line that year (New York Daily News, Sept 29, 2010).
People in hunger increased sharply. A report issued by the US Department of Agriculture in November 2010 showed that 14.7 percent of US households were food insecure in 2009 (www.ers.usda.gov), an increase of almost 30 percent since 2006 (The Washington Post, Nov 21, 2010). About 50 million Americans experienced food shortage that year. The number of households collecting emergency food aid had increased from 3.9 million in 2007 to 5.6 million in 2009 (The China Press, Nov 16, 2010). The number of Americans participating in the food-stamp program increased from 26 million in May 2007 to 42 million in September 2010, approximately one in eight people was using food stamps (The Associated Press, Oct 22, 2010). In the past four years, 31.6 percent of American families tasted poverty for at least a couple of months (The Globe and Mail, Sept 17, 2010).
Number of homeless Americans increased sharply. According to a report by USA Today on June 16, 2010, the number of families in homeless shelters increased 7 percent to 170,129 from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2009. Homeless families also were staying longer in shelters, from 30 days in 2008 to 36 in 2009, and about 800,000 American families were living with extended family, friends, or other people because of the economy. The number of homeless students in the US increased 41 percent over that in the previous two years to one million (The Washington Post, Sept 23, 2010; USA Today, July 31, 2010). In New York City, 30 percent of homeless families in 2009 were first-time homeless (www.usatoday.com). The city’s homeless people increased to 3,111, with another 38,000 people living in shelters (The New York Times, March 19, 2010). New Orleans had 12,000 homeless people (News Week, Aug 23, 2010). An estimated 254,000 men, women and children experienced homelessness in Los Angeles County during some part of the year. Approximately 82,000 people were homeless on any given night. African Americans made up approximately half of the Los Angeles County homeless population, 33 percent were Latino, and a high percentage, as high as 20 percent, were veterans (www.laalmanac.com). American veterans served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars could become homeless one year and a half after they retired, and about 130,000 retired veterans become homeless each year in the US (homepost.kpbs.org). Statistics from the National Coalition for the Homeless showed that more than 1,000 violent offences against homeless people have occurred in the U.S. which caused 291 deaths since 1999. (The New York Times, Aug18, 2010)
The number of American people without health insurance increased progressively every year. According to a report by USA Today on Sept 17, 2010, the number of Americans without health insurance increased from 46.3 million in 2008 to 50.7 million in 2009, the ninth consecutive annual rise, which accounted for 16.7 percent of the total US population. Sixty-eight adults under 65 years old died due to lack of health insurance each day on average in the US. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November 2010 showed that 22 percent of American adults between 16 and 64 had no health insurance (Reuters, Nov 10, 2010). A report issued by the Center for Health Policy Research, University of California, Los Angeles indicated that 24.3 percent of adults under 65 in California State in 2009 had no health insurance, representing a population of 8.2 million, up from the 6.4 million in 2007. Proportion of children without health insurance in the state rose from 10.2 percent in 2007 to 13.4 percent in 2009 (The China Press, March 17, 2010, citing the Los Angeles Times).
IV. On Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination, deep-seated in the United States, has permeated every aspect of social life.
An Associated Press-Univision Poll, reported by the Associated Press on May 20, 2010, found that 61 percent of people overall said Hispanics face significant discrimination, compared with 52 percent who said blacks do. The New York Times reported on Oct 28, 2010 that more than 6 in 10 Latinos in the United States say discrimination is a “major problem” for them, a significant increase in the last three years.
Minorities do not enjoy the same political status as white people. The New York city’s non-Hispanic white population is 35 percent, while more than 70 percent of the senior jobs are held by whites. Since winning a third term in November 2009, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has announced a parade of major appointments: bringing aboard three new deputy mayors and six commissioners. All nine are white. Of the 80 current city officials identified by the Bloomberg administration as “key members” on its website, 79 percent are white. Of 321 people who advise the mayor or hold one of three top titles at agencies that report directly to him – commissioners, deputy commissioners and general counsels, and their equivalents – 78 percent are white. And of the 1,114 employees who must live in the city, under an executive order, because they wield the most influence over policies and day-to-day operations, 74 percent are white (The New York Times, June 29, 2010).
Minority groups have high unemployment rate. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July 2010, among the population 16 to 24 years of age, 2,987,000 unemployed people were white, with unemployment rate reaching 16.2 percent; 992,000 were black or African-American people, with unemployment rate of 33.4 percent; 165,000 were Asians, with unemployment rate of 21.6 percent; 884,000 belonged to Hispanic or Latino ethnicity, with unemployment rate of 22.1 percent (bls.gov/news.release/pdf/youth.pdf). According to a report of the working group of experts on people of African descent to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in August 2010, unemployment was a very serious issue for the Afro-descendant community in the United States, with levels of unemployment being, proportionately, four times higher among this population than in the white community. Reference was made to a case where the New York City Fire Department was found to have discriminated against people of African descent who had applied for employment as firemen. Of the 11,000 firemen employed by the New York City Fire Department, only about 300 were of African descent, despite their being about 27 percent of the population of New York (UN document A/HRC/15/18). Nearly one-sixth of black residents in the city were unemployed in the third quarter of 2010. About 140,000 of the city’s 384,000 unemployed residents, or 36 percent, were black (The New York Times, Oct 28, 2010).
Poverty proportion for minorities is also high in the United States. The US Census Bureau announced in Sept, 2010 that the poverty proportion of the black was 25.8 percent in 2009, and those of Hispanic origin and Asian were 25.3 percent and 12.5 percent respectively, much higher than that of the non-Hispanic white at 9.4 percent. The median household income for the black, Hispanic origin and non-Hispanic white were $32,584, $38,039 and $54,461 respectively (The USA Today, September 17, 2010). A survey released by the America Association of Retired Persons on February 23, 2010 found that over the previous 12 months, a third (33 percent) of African-Americans age 45+ had problems paying rent or mortgage, 44 percent had problems paying for essential items, such as food and utilities, almost one in four (23 percent) lost their employer-sponsored health insurance, more than three in 10 (31 percent) had cut back on their medications, and a quarter (26 percent) prematurely withdrew funds from their retirement nest eggs to pay for living expenses. Even in the tough employment environment, 12 percent of African-Americans age 65+ returned to the workforce from retirement, while nearly 20 percent of African-Americans age 45 to 64 increased the number of hours worked and 12 percent took a second job (The Los Angeles Times, Feb 23, 2010). In 2009, there were more than 30,000 black children living in poverty in the nation’s capital, almost 7,000 more than two years before. Among black children in the city, childhood poverty shot up to 43 percent, from 36 percent in 2008. In contrast, the poverty rate for Hispanic children was 13 percent, and the rate for white children was 3 percent (The Washington Post, Sept 29, 2010).
The US minority groups face obvious inequality in education. A latest report released by America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University showed that 81 percent of white, 64 percent of Hispanic, and 62 percent of African-American students graduated from high schools in 2008 (The World Journal, Dec 2, 2010). As of 2008, among white men aged 55 to 64, the college completion rate was 43 percent, while 19 percent of Hispanics. Among white men aged 25 to 34, the completion rate was 39 percent, compared with 14 percent of Hispanics (The Washington Post, Oct 20, 2010). In New York City, the number of white adults with a master degree were three times more than Hispanics. According to a report released by the Sacramento State University, only 22 percent of Latino students and 26 percent African-American students completed their two-year studies in the university, compared with 37 percent of white students (The San Jose Mercury News, Oct 20, 2010). A report released from New York City’s Department of Education in January 2010 found that 6,207 or 4.7 percent-out of a total of 130,837 disciplinary incidents reported in the City’s public schools during the 2008-09 school year were bias-related with gender, race/color, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation (The China Press, Jan 18, 2010). The USA Today on Oct 14, 2010 reported that African-American boys who were suspended at double and triple the rates of their white male peers. At the Christina School District in Delaware, 71 percent of black male students were suspended in a recent school year, compared to 22 percent of their white male counterparts. African-American students without disabilities were more than three times as likely to be expelled as their white peers. African-American students with disabilities were over twice as likely to be expelled or suspended as their white counterparts (USA Today, March 8, 2010).
The health care for African-American people is worrisome. Studies showed that nearly a third of ethnic minority families in the United States did not have health insurance. Life expectancy was lower and infant mortality higher than average (BBC, the social and economic position of minorities). Mortality of African-American children was two to three times higher than that of their white counterparts. African-American children represented 71 percent of all pediatric HIV/AIDS cases. African-American women and men were 17 times and 7 times, respectively, more likely to contract HIV/AIDS than white people, and twice more likely to develop cancer.
Racial discrimination is evident in the law enforcement and judicial systems. The New York Times reported on May 13, 2010, that in 2009, African-Americans and Latinos were 9 times more likely to be stopped by the police to receive stop-and-frisk searches than white people. Overall, 41 percent of the prison population was estimated to be African-American. The rate of African-Americans serving a life sentence was more than 10 times higher than that of whites. Males of African descent who dropped out of school had a 66 percent chance of ending up in jail or being processed by the criminal justice system (UN document A/HRC/15/18). A report said 85 percent of the people stopped in New York to receive stop-and-frisk searches over the past six years had been black or Latino (The Washington Post, November 4, 2010). According to a report of the Law School of the Michigan State University, among the 159 death row inmates in North Carolina, 86 were black, 61 were white and 12 were from other ethnic groups. During the trial process of the 159 capital cases, the number of black members taken out from the jury by prosecutors more than doubled that of non-black members. According to statistics from the Chicago Police Department, the proportion of black people being the criminals and the victims of all murder cases is the highest, reaching 76.3 and 77.6 percent respectively (portal.chicagopolice.org). The Homicide Report of the Los Angeles Times showed 2,329 homicides in Los Angeles County from Jan 1, 2007 to Nov 14, 2010, with victims of 1,600 Latinos and 997 black people (projects.latimes.com/homicide/map/).
Racial hate crimes are frequent. The FBI said in an annual report that out of 6,604 hate crimes committed in the United States in 2009, some 4,000 were racially motivated and nearly 1,600 were driven by hatred for a particular religion. Overall, some 8,300 people fell victim to hate crimes in 2009. Blacks made up around three-quarters of victims of the racially motivated hate crimes and Jews made up the same percentage of victims of anti-religious hate crimes. Two-thirds of the 6,225 known perpetrators of all US hate crimes were white (AFP, Nov 22, 2010).
Immigrants’ rights and interests are not guaranteed. Lawmakers in the Arizona Senate in April 2010 passed a bill to curb illegal immigration. The law requires state and local police to determine the status of people if there is “reasonable suspicion” that they are illegal immigrants and to arrest people who are unable to provide documentation proving they are in the country legally (The Los Angeles Times, April 13, 2010). Another proposed Arizona law, supported by Republicans of the state, would deny birth certificates to children born in the United States to illegal immigrant parents (CNN US, June 15, 2010). A group of UN human rights experts on migrants, racism, minorities, indigenous people, education and cultural rights expressed serious concern over the laws enacted by the state of Arizona, saying that “a disturbing pattern of legislative activity hostile to ethnic minorities and immigrants has been established”. The Arizona immigration law requires state law enforcement officers to arrest a person, without a warrant. It also makes it a crime to be in the country illegally, and specifically targets day laborers, making it a crime for an undocumented migrant to solicit work, and for any person to hire or seek to hire an undocumented migrant. The law may lead to detaining and subjecting to interrogation persons primarily on the basis of their perceived ethnic characteristics. In Arizona, persons who appear to be of Mexican, Latin American, or indigenous origin are especially at risk of being targeted under the law. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Nov 19, 2010 that a large group of human rights organizations prepared to hold a vigil in South Georgia in support of suspected illegal immigrants being held in a prison in Lumpkin. As of Sept 17, 2010, the prison was holding 1,890 inmates. Court cases for inmates at the prison were pending for 63 days on average. With regard to immigration detainees, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said, in a report to the Human Rights Council in April 2010, that he received reports of detainees being willfully and maliciously denied proper medical treatment, to which they are entitled by legislation, while they are in the custody of the national authorities. The Special Rapporteur observed during his country missions that irregular migrant workers are often homeless or living in crowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions (UN document A/HRC/14/30).
V. On the rights of women and children
The situation regarding the rights of women and children in the United States is bothering.
Gender discrimination against women widely exists in the United States. According to a report released on Aug 11, 2010 by the Daily Mail, 90 percent of women have suffered some form of sexual discrimination in the workplace. Just 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. A report by the American Association of University Women released on March 22, 2010 showed that women earned only 21 percent of doctorate degrees in computer science, around one-third of the doctorates in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences, chemistry, and math. Women doing the same work as men often get less payment in the United States. According to a report on Sept 17, 2010 by the Washington Post, in nearly 50 years, the wage gap has narrowed by only 18 US cents. The census report released on Sept 16, 2010 showed that working women are paid only 77 cents for every dollar earned by a man. The New York Times reported on April 26, 2010 that Wal-Mart was accused of systematically paying women less than men, giving them smaller raises and offering women fewer opportunities for promotion in the biggest employment discrimination case in the nation’s history. The plaintiffs stressed that while 65 percent of Wal-Mart’s hourly employees were women, only 33 percent of the company’s managers were (The New York Times, April 26, 2010).
Women in the United States often experience sexual assault and violence. Statistics released in October 2010 by the National Institute of Justice show that some 20 million women are rape victims in the country (justice.gov/opa/pr/2010/october/10-ag-1220.html). About 60,000 female prisoners fall victims to sexual assault or violence every year. Some one fifth female students on campus are victims of sexual assault, and 60 percent of campus rape cases occurred in female students’ dorms (World Journal, Aug 26, 2010).
According to the Human Rights Watch report released in August last year, 50 detainees in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers have been alleged victims of sexual assault since 2003. Most of these victims were women, and some of the alleged assailants, including prison guards, were not prosecuted. In one case, a guard in a Texas detention center pretended to be a doctor and sexually assaulted five women in the center’s infirmary (World Journal, Aug 26, 2010). According to figures from Pentagon, cited by the Time magazine on March 8, 2010, nearly 3,000 female soldiers were sexually assaulted in fiscal year 2008, up 9 percent from the year before. Close to one-third of the retired female soldiers said they were victims of rape or assault while they were serving.
Women are also victims of domestic violence. In the United States, some 1.3 million people fall victim to domestic violence every year, and women account for 92 percent. One in four women is a victim of domestic violence at some point during her life, and the violence kills three women each day in the United States by a current or former intimate partner (CNN, Oct 21, 2010). In 2008, police in the New York City received reports of more than 230,000 domestic violence cases, which equals to 600 cases per day (China Press, April 3, 2010). In all homicide cases in 2009, of the female murder victims for whom their relationships to the offenders were known, 34.6 percent were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends (www2.fbi.gov). In the Santa Clara County in California, police receive more than 4,500 domestic violence related calls every year, and more than 700 women and children live in shelters to avoid domestic violence (World Journal, October 15, 2010; China Press, Oct 9, 2010).
Women’s health rights are not properly protected in the United States. According to the Amnesty International, more than two women die every day in the United States from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women in the past 20 years. Native American and Alaska Native women are 3.6 times, African-American women 2.6 times and Latina women 2.5 times more likely than white women to receive no or late pre-natal care (UN document A/HRC/14/NGO/13).
Children in the US live in poverty. The Washington Post reported on Nov 21, 2010, that nearly one in four children struggles with hunger, citing the US Department of Agriculture. More than 60 percent of public school teachers identify hunger as a problem in the classroom. Roughly the same percentage go into their own pockets to buy food for their hungry students (The Washington Post, Nov 21, 2010). According to figures released on Sept 16, 2010 by the US Census Bureau, the poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 to 20.7 percent in 2009, up 1.7 percentage points from that in 2008 (census.gov). Poverty among black children in the Washington D.C. is as high as 43 percent (The Washington Post, Sept 29, 2010), and some 2.7 million children in California live in impoverished families. The number of poor children in six counties in the San Francisco Bay Area has increased by 15 to 16 percent. Statistics show that at least 17 million children in the United States lived in food insecure households in 2009 (World Journal, May 8, 2010).
Violence against children is very severe. Figures from the official website of Love Our Children USA show that every year over 3 million children are victims of violence reportedly and the actual number is 3 times greater. Almost 1.8 million are abducted and nearly 600,000 children live in foster care. Every day one out of seven kids and teens are approached online by predators, and one out of four kids are bullied and 43 percent of teens and 97 percent of middle schoolers are cyberbullied. Nine out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school. As many as 160,000 students stay home on any given day because they’ re afraid of being bullied (loveourchildrenusa.org). According to a report released on Oct 20, 2010 by the Washington Post, 17 percent of American students report being bullied two to three times a month or more within a school semester. Bullying is most prevalent in third grade, when almost 25 percent of students reported being bullied two, three or more times a month. According to a UN report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to education, 20 states and hundreds of school districts in the United States still permit schools to administer corporal punishment in some form, and students with mental or physical disabilities are more likely to suffer physical punishment (UN document A/HRC/14/25/ADD.1).
Children’s physical and mental health is not ensured. More than 93,000 children are currently incarcerated in the United States, and between 75 and 93 percent of children have experienced at least one traumatic experience, including sexual abuse and neglect (The Washington Post, July 9, 2010). According to a report made by the Child Fatality Review Team from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, between 2001 and 2008, injury-related deaths among children aged one to 12 years old in the United States was 8.9 deaths per 100,000. The figure for those in the New York City was 4.2 deaths per 100,000 (China Press, July 3, 2010). Thirteen children and young adults have died at a Chicago care facility for children with severe disabilities since 2000 due to failure to take basic steps to care for them (Chicago Tribune, Oct 10, 2010). According to a study published on Oct 14, 2010 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, about half of American teens aged between 13 and 19 met the criteria for a mental disorder. Fifty-one percent of boys and 49 percent of girls aged 13 to 19 had a mood, behavior, anxiety or substance use disorder, and the disorder in 22.2 percent of teens was so severe it impaired their daily activities (World Journal, Oct 15, 2010). Pornographic content is rampant on the Internet and severely harms American children. Statistics show that seven in 10 children have accidentally accessed pornography on the Internet and one in three has done so intentionally. And the average age of exposure is 11 years old – some start at eight years old (The Washington Times, June 16, 2010). According to a survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, 20 percent of American teens have sent or posted nude or seminude pictures or videos of themselves. (co.jefferson.co.us, March 23, 2010). At least 500 profit-oriented nude chat websites were set up by teens in the United States, involving tens of thousands of pornographic pictures.
VI. On US Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations
The United States has a notorious record of international human rights violations.
The US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused huge civilian casualties. A trove, released by the WikiLeaks website on Oct 22, 2010, reported up to 285,000 war casualties in Iraq from March 2003 through the end of 2009. The documents revealed that at least 109,000 people were killed in the Iraq War, and 63 percent of them were civilians (World Journal, Oct 23, 2010). In an attack in Baghdad in July 2007, an American helicopter shot and killed 12 people, among whom were a Reuters photographer and his driver (The New York Times, April 5, 2010). On Feb 20, 2011, a US military operation in northeastern Afghanistan killed 65 innocent people, including 22 women and more than 30 children, causing the most serious civilian casualties in months (The Washington Post, Feb 20, 2011). According to a report in the Washington Post on Oct 15, 2010, Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry reported in 2009 that 85,694 Iraqis were killed from January 2004 to Oct 31, 2008. Iraq Body Count, an organization based in Britain, said that a total of 122,000 civilians had been killed since the US invasion of Iraq (Newsday, Oct 24, 2010).
The US military actions in Afghanistan and other regions have also brought tremendous casualties to local people. According to a report by McClatchy Newspapers on March 2, 2010, the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops had caused 535 Afghan civilian deaths and injuries in 2009. Among them 113 civilians were shot and killed, an increase of 43 percent over 2008. Since June 2009, air strikes by the US military had killed at least 35 Afghan civilians. On Jan 8, 2010, an American missile strike in the northwestern region of Pakistan killed four people and injured three others (The San Francisco Chronicle, Jan 9, 2010). During an American Special Operation in Afghanistan on February 12, five innocent civilians were shot to death, and two of them were pregnant mothers (The New York Times, April 5, 2010, page A4). On April 12, American troops raked a passenger bus near Kandahar, killing five civilians and wounding 18 others (The New York Times, April 13, 2010). The Washington Post reported on Sept 18, 2010, that from Jan 2010, a “kill team” formed by five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the US forces in Afghanistan, had committed at least three murders, where they randomly targeted and killed Afghan civilians, and dismembered the corpses and hoarded the human bones (The Washington Post, Sept 18, 2010).
The US counter-terrorism missions have been haunted by prisoner abuse scandals. The United States held individuals captured during its “war on terror” indefinitely without charge or trial, according to a joint study report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010 by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The report said the United States established detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and many other places in the world, keeping detainees secretly. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established secret detention facilities to interrogate so-called “high-value detainees”. The study said the US Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. Bradbury had stated that the CIA had taken custody of 94 detainees, and had employed “enhanced techniques” to varying degrees, including stress positions, extreme temperature changes, sleep deprivation, and “waterboarding,” in the interrogation of 28 of those detainees (UN document A/HRC/13/42). The United States makes arrests outside its border under the pretext of the “war on terror.” According to a report of the Associated Press on Dec 9, 2010, documents released by the WikiLeaks website indicated that in 2003, some US agents were involved in an abduction of a German citizen mistakenly believed to be a terrorist. The US agents abducted him in Macedonia, and secretly detained him in a CIA-run prison in Afghanistan for five months. However, a top diplomat at the US Embassy in Berlin warned the German government not to issue international arrest warrants against the involved CIA agents.
The United States has seriously violated the right of subsistence and right of development of Cuban residents. On Oct 26, 2010, the 65th session of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted a resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” the 19th such resolution in a row. Only two countries, including the United States, voted against the resolution. The blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba qualifies as an act of genocide under Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which was adopted in 1948.
The United States refuses to join several key international human rights conventions, failing to fulfill its international obligations. To date, the United States has ratified neither the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, nor the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. In 2006, the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Up to now 96 countries have ratified the Convention. The United States, however, has not ratified it. So far, a total of 193 countries have joined the Convention on the Rights of the Child as states parties, but the United States is among the very few countries that have not ratified it.
On Aug 20, 2010, the US government submitted its first report on domestic human rights situation to the UN Human Rights Council. During the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the record on Nov 5, the United States received a record 228 recommendations by about 60 country delegations for improving its human rights situation. These recommendations referred to, inter alia, ratifying key international human rights conventions, rights of ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples, racial discriminations and Guantanamo prison. The United States, however, only accepted some 40 of them. On March 18, 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the UPR on the United States, and many countries condemned the United States for rejecting most of the recommendations. In the discussion on the United States, speakers from some country delegations expressed their regret and disappointment over the United States’ refusal of a large number of the recommendations. They noted that the United States’ commitment to the human rights area was far from satisfying, and they urged the United States to face up to its own human rights record and take concrete actions to tackle the existing human rights problems.
The above-mentioned facts illustrate that the United States has a dismal record on its own human rights and could not be justified to pose as the world’s “human rights justice”. However, it released the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse and blame other countries for their human rights practices. The United States ignores its own serious human rights problems, but has been keen on advocating the so-called “human rights diplomacy”, to take human rights as a political instrument to defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests. These facts fully expose its hypocrisy by exercising double standards on human rights and its malicious design to pursue hegemony under the pretext of human rights.
We hereby advise the US government to take concrete actions to improve its own human rights conditions, check and rectify its acts in the human rights field, and stop the hegemonistic deeds of using human rights issues to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
（注1）10 Facts About Crime in the United States that Will Blow Your Mind, Beforitsnews.com
（注2） Criminal Victimization 2009,U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov
警察滥施暴力和刑讯逼供现象严重。据美联社2010年10月14日报道，在过去10年中，纽约市为解决当地涉警察局投诉而支付的赔偿金达9.64亿美元。其中，一名手无寸铁的男子在自己举办婚礼当天被警察连开50枪打死，涉案警察被判无罪，而纽约警察局只是给钱了事。(注24)由此可见，在标榜“司法公正”的美国，上述遇害者哪有什么公正？ 2010年6月，陪审团判处芝加哥前警长因涉嫌虐囚犯有伪证罪和妨害司法公正罪，他与同事被控用恐吓、窒息和燃烧嫌疑人的方法获取口供。(注25) 《芝加哥论坛报》2010年5月12日报道，芝加哥警察局被控在没有合法授权的情况下对嫌疑人进行逮捕、铐在墙壁或金属长凳、不提供正常三餐、很少休息、不提供床铺浴室等“软酷刑”获取非自愿供述。据报道，2010年3月22日，俄勒冈州波特兰市一名警察开枪打死一名无家可归者。(注26)4月3日，洛杉矶威斯敏斯特警察局两名警察拦车绑架并强奸了一名25岁女子。(注27)4月17日，华盛顿州西雅图市警察在抓捕一名拉丁裔嫌犯时，对其进行殴打，并使用种族歧视语言谩骂。(注28)3月24日，休斯敦8名警察殴打一名涉嫌盗窃的15岁黑人少年查德·霍雷，该少年倒地求饶，但警员继续殴打。最终，只有4名警员受到指控和开除处分。(注29)8月11日，乔治王子县警察在追捕一辆被盗面包车时开枪打伤３人，死者家人质疑警察开枪的合法性，因为车上的人没有开枪。(注30)9月5日，洛杉矶警察开枪将一名危地马拉裔移民打死，引发骚乱，警察向人群发射橡胶子弹，并拘捕22人。(注31)11月5日，洛杉矶法院对在2009年枪杀奥克兰市乘客的湾区捷运警察梅塞尔从轻判处两年有期徒刑，引发民众抗议示威，警方拘捕了150多名示威者。(注32)
(注41) Prison planet.com，2010年6月16日。
（注83）BBC，the social and economic position of minorities
（注102） www. census.gov
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) — China’s Information Office of the State Council published a report titled “The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009” here Friday. Following is the full text:
The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 on March 11, 2010, posing as “the world judge of human rights” again. As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 is prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States.
I. On Life, Property and Personal Security
Widespread violent crimes in the United States posed threats to the lives, properties and personal security of its people.
In 2008, U.S. residents experienced 4.9 million violent crimes, 16.3 million property crimes and 137,000 personal thefts, and the violent crime rate was 19.3 victimizations per 1,000 persons aged 12 or over, according to a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice in September 2009 (Criminal Victimization 2008, U.S. Department of Justice, http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov). In 2008, over 14 million arrests occurred for all offenses (except traffic violations) in the country, and the arrest rate for violent crime was 198.2 per 100,000 inhabitants (Crime in the United States, 2008, http://www.fbi.gov). In 2009, a total of 35 domestic homicides occurred in Philadelphia, a 67 percent increase from 2008 (The New York Times, December 30, 2009). In New York City, 461 murders were reported in 2009, and the crime rate was 1,151 cases per 100,000 people. San Antonio in Texas was deemed as the most dangerous among 25 U.S. large cities with 2,538 crimes recorded per 100,000 people (The China Press, December 30, 2009). The murder rate rose 5.5 percent in towns with a population of 10,000 or fewer in 2008 (http://www.usatoday.com, June 1, 2009). Most of the United States’ 15,000 annual murders occur in cities where they are concentrated in poorer neighborhoods (http://www.reuters.com, October 7, 2009).
The United States ranks first in the world in terms of the number of privately-owned guns. According to the data from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), American gun owners, out of 309 million in total population, have more than 250 million guns, while a substantial proportion of U.S. gun owners had more than one weapon. Americans usually buy 7 billion rounds of ammunition a year, but in 2008 the figure jumped to about 9 billion (The China Press, September 25, 2009). In the United States, airline passengers are allowed to take unloaded weapons after declaration.
In the United States, about 30,000 people die from gun-related incidents each year (The China Press, April 6, 2009). According to a FBI report, there had been 14,180 murder victims in 2008 (USA Today, September 15, 2009). Firearms were used in 66.9 percent of murders, 43.5 percent of robberies and 21.4 percent of aggravated assaults (http://www.thefreelibrary.com). USA Today reported that a man named Michael McLendon killed 10 people in two rural towns of Alabama before turning a gun on himself on March 11, 2009. On March 29, a man named Robert Stewart shot and killed eight people and injured three others in a nursing home in North Carolina (USA Today, March 11, 2009). On April 3, an immigrant called Jiverly Wong shot 13 people dead and wounded four others in an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, New York (The New York Times, April 4, 2009). In the year 2009, a string of attacks on police shocked the country. On March 21, a 26-year-old jobless man shot and killed four police officers in Oakland, California, before he was killed by police gunfire (http://cbs5.com). On April 4, a man called Richard Poplawski shot three police officers to death in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. On November 29, an ex-convict named Maurice Clemmons shot four police officers to death inside a coffee shop in Parkland, Washington (The New York Times, December 1, 2 and 3, 2009).
Campuses became an area worst hit by violent crimes as shootings spread there and kept escalating. The U.S. Heritage Foundation reported that 11.3 percent of high school students in Washington D.C. reported being “threatened or injured” with a weapon while on school property during the 2007-2008 school year. In the same period, police responded to more than 900 calls to 911 reporting violent incidents at the addresses of Washington D.C. public schools (A Report of The Heritage Center for Data Analysis, School Safety in Washington, D.C.: New Data for the 2007-2008 School Year, http://www.heritage.org). In New Jersey public schools, a total of 17,666 violent incidents were reported in 2007-2008 (Annual Report on Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Public Schools by New Jersey Department of Education, October 2009, http://www.state.nj.us). In the City University of New York, a total of 107 major crimes occurred in five of its campuses during 2006 and 2007(The New York Post, September 22, 2009).
II. On Civil and Political Rights
In the United States, civil and political rights of citizens are severely restricted and violated by the government.
The country’s police frequently impose violence on the people. Chicago Defender reported on July 8, 2009 that a total of 315 police officers in New York were subject to internal supervision due to unrestrained use of violence during law enforcement. The figure was only 210 in 2007. Over the past two years, the number of New York police officers under review for garnering too many complaints was up 50 percent (http://www.chicagodefender.com). According to a New York Police Department firearms discharge report released on Nov. 17, 2009, the city’ s police fired 588 bullets in 2007, killing 10 people, and 354 bullets in 2008, killing 13 people (http://gothamist.com, November 17, 2009). On September 3, 2009, a student of the San Jose State University was hit repeatedly by four San Jose police officers with batons and a Taser gun for more than ten times (http://www.mercurynews.com, October 27, 2009). On September 22, 2009, a Chinese student in Eugene, Oregon was beaten by a local police officer for no reason (The Oregonian, October 23, 2009, http://blog.oregonlive.com). According to the Amnesty International, in the first ten months of 2009, police officers in the U.S. killed 45 people due to unrestrained use of Taser guns. The youngest of the victims was only 15. From 2001 to October, 2009, 389 people died of Taser guns used by police officers (http://theduckshoot.com).
Abuse of power is common among U.S. law enforcers. In July 2009, the Federal Bureau of Investigation put four police officers in the Washington area under investigation for taking money to protect a gambling ring frequented by some of the region’s most powerful drug dealers over the past two years (The Washington Post, July, 19, 2009). In September 2009, an off-duty police officer in Chicago attacked a bus driver for “cutting him off in traffic” as he rode a bicycle (Chicago Tribune, September 2009, http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com). In the same month, four former police officers in Chicago were charged with extorting close to 500,000 U.S. dollars from a Hispanic driving an expensive car with out-of-state plates and suspected drug dealers in the name of law enforcement, and offering bribes to their superiors (Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2009). In November 2009, a former police chief of the Prince George’s County’s town of Morningside was charged with selling a stolen gun to a civilian (The Washington Post, November 18, 2009). In major U.S. cities, police stop, question and frisk more than a million people each year – a sharply higher number than just a few years ago (http://huffingtonpost.com, October 8, 2009).
Prisons in the United State are packed with inmates. According to a report released by the U.S. Justice Department on Dec. 8, 2009, more than 7.3 million people were under the authority of the U.S. corrections system at the end of 2008. The correctional system population increased by 0.5 percent in 2008 compared with the previous year (http://www.wsws.org). About 2.3 million were held in custody of prisons and jails, the equivalent of about one in every 198 persons in the country. From 2000 to 2008, the U.S. prison population increased an average of 1.8 percent annually (http://mensnewsdaily.com, January 18, 2010). The California government even suggested sending tens of thousands of illegal immigrants held in the state to Mexico, in order to ease its overcrowded prison system (http://news.yahoo.com, January 26, 2010).
The basic rights of prisoners in the United States are not well-protected. Raping cases of inmates by prison staff members are widely reported. According to the U.S. Justice Department, reports of sexual misconduct by prison staff members with inmates in the country’s 93 federal prison sites doubled over the past eight years. Of the 90 staff members prosecuted for sexual abuse of inmates, nearly 40 percent were also convicted of other crimes (The Washington Post, September11, 2009). The New York Times reported on June 24, 2009 that according to a federal survey of more than 63,000 federal and state inmates, 4.5 percent reported being sexually abused at least once during the previous 12 months. It was estimated that there were at least 60,000 rapes of prisoners across the United States during the same period (The New York Times, June 24, 2009).
Chaotic management of prisons in the United State also led to wide spread of diseases among the inmates. According to a report from the U.S. Justice Department, a total of 20,231 male inmates and 1,913 female inmates had been confirmed as HIV carriers in the U.S. federal and state prisons at yearend 2008. The percentage of male and female inmates with HIV/AIDS amounted to 1.5 and 1.9 percent respectively (http://www.news-medical.net, December 2, 2009). From 2007 to 2008, the number of HIV/AIDS cases in prisons in California, Missouri and Florida increased by 246, 169, and 166 respectively. More than 130 federal and state inmates in the U.S. died of AIDS-related causes in 2007 (http://thecrimereport.org, December 2, 2009). A report by the Human Rights Watch released in March 2009 said although the New York State prison registered the highest number of prisoners living with HIV in the country, it did not provide the inmates with adequate access to treatment, and even locked the inmates up separately, refusing to provide them with treatment of any kind. (www.hrw.org, March 24, 2009).
While advocating “freedom of speech,” “freedom of the press” and “Internet freedom,” the U.S. government unscrupulously monitors and restricts the citizens’ rights to freedom when it comes to its own interests and needs.
The U.S. citizens’ freedom to access and distribute information is under strict supervision. According to media reports, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) started installing specialized eavesdropping equipment around the country to wiretap calls, faxes, and emails and collect domestic communications as early as 2001. The wiretapping programs was originally targeted at Arab-Americans, but soon grew to include other Americans. The NSA installed over 25 eavesdropping facilities in San Jose, San Diego, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Chicago among other cities. The NSA also announced recently it was building a huge one million square feet data warehouse at a cost of 1.5 billion U.S. dollars at Camp Williams in Utah, as well as another massive data warehouse in San Antonio, as part of the NSA’s new Cyber Command responsibilities. The report said a man named Nacchio was convicted on 19 counts of insider trading and sentenced to six years in prison after he refused to participate in NSA’s surveillance program (http://www.onelinejournal.com, November 23, 2009).
After the September 11 attack, the U.S. government, in the name of anti-terrorism, authorized its intelligence authorities to hack into its citizens’ mail communications, and to monitor and erase any information that might threaten the U.S. national interests on the Internet through technical means. The country’s Patriot Act allowed law enforcement agencies to search telephone, email communications, medical, financial and other records, and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting foreign persons suspected of terrorism-related acts. The Act expanded the definition of terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which law enforcement powers could be applied. On July 9, 2008, the U.S. Senate passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, granting legal immunity to telecommunication companies that take part in wiretapping programs and authorizing the government to wiretap international communications between the United States and people overseas for anti-terrorism purposes without court approval (The New York Times, July 10, 2008). Statistic showed that from 2002 to 2006, the FBI collected thousands of phones records of U.S. citizens through mails, notes and phone calls. In September 2009, the country set up an Internet security supervision body, further worrying U.S. citizens that the U.S. government might use Internet security as an excuse to monitor and interfere with personal systems. A U.S. government official told the New York Times in an interview in April 2009 that NSA had intercepted private email messages and phone calls of Americans in recent months on a scale that went beyond the broad legal limits established by U.S. Congress the year before. In addition, the NSA was also eavesdropping on phones of foreign political figures, officials of international organizations and renowned journalists (The New York Times, April, 15, 2009). The U.S. military also participated in the eavesdropping programs. According to CNN reports, a Virginia-based U.S. military Internet risk evaluation organization was in charge of monitoring official and unofficial private blogs, official documents, personal contact information, photos of weapons, entrances of military camps, as well as other websites that “might threaten its national security.”
The so-called “freedom of the press” of the United States was in fact completely subordinate to its national interests, and was manipulated by the U.S. government. According to media reports, the U.S. government and the Pentagon had recruited a number of former military officers to become TV and radio news commentators to give “positive comments” and analysis as “military experts” for the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan, in order to guide public opinions, glorify the wars, and gain public support of its anti-terrorism ideology (The New York Times, April 20, 2009). At yearend 2009, the U.S. Congress passed a bill which imposed sanctions on several Arab satellite channels for broadcasting contents hostile to the U.S. and instigating violence (http://blogs.rnw.nl). In September 2009, protesters using the social-networking site Twitter and text messages to coordinate demonstrations clashed with the police several times in Pittsburgh, where the Group of 20 summit was held. Elliot Madison, 41, was later charged with hindering apprehension of the protesters through the Internet. The police also searched his home (http://www.nytimes.com, October 5, 2009). Vic Walczak, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the same conduct in other countries would be called human rights violations whereas in the United States it was called necessary crime control.
III. On Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Poverty, unemployment and the homeless are serious problems in the United States, where workers’ economic, social and cultural rights cannot be guaranteed.
Unemployment rate in the U.S. in 2009 was the highest in 26 years. The number of bankrupt businesses and individuals kept rising due to the financial crisis. The Associated Press reported in April 2009 that nearly 1.2 million businesses and individuals filed for bankruptcy in the previous 12 months – about four in every 1,000 people, a rate twice as high as that in 2006 (http://www.floridabankruptcyblog.com). By December 4, 2009, a total of 130 U.S. banks had been forced to close in the year due to the financial crisis (Chicago Tribune, December 4, 2009). Statistics released by the U.S. Labor Department on Nov. 6, 2009 showed unemployment rate in October 2009 reached 10.2 percent, the highest since 1983 (The New York Times, November 7, 2009). Nearly 16 million people were jobless, with 5.6 million, or 35.6 percent of the unemployed, being out of work for more than half a year (The New York Times, November 13, 2009). In September, about 1.6 million young workers, or 25 percent of the total, were jobless, the highest since 1948 when records were kept (The Washington Post, September 7, 2009). In the week ending on March 7, 2009, the continuing jobless claims in the U.S. were 5.47 million, higher than the previous week’s 5.29 million (http://247wallst.com, March 19, 2009).
The population in poverty was the largest in 11 years. The Washington Post reported on September 10, 2009, that altogether 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty by the end of 2008, an increase of 2.6 million from that in 2007. The poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, the highest since 1998. The number of people aged between 18 to 64 living in poverty in 2008 had risen to 22.1 million, 170,000 more than in 2007. Up to 8.1 million families were under poverty, accounting for 10.3 percent of the total families (The Washington Post, September 11, 2009). According to a report of the New York Times on Sept. 29, 2009, the poverty rate in New York City in 2008 was 18.2 percent and nearly 28 percent of the Bronx borough’s residents were living in poverty (The New York Times, September 29, 2009). From August 2008 to August 2009, more than 90,000 poor households in California suffered power and gas cuts. A 93-year-old man was frozen to death at his home (http://www.msnbc.msn.com). Poverty led to a sharp rise in the number of suicides in the United States. It is reported that there are roughly 32,000 suicides in the U.S. every year, nearly double the cases of murder, which numbered 18,000 (http://www.time.com). The Los Angeles County coroner’s office said the poor economy was taking a toll even on the dead as more bodies in the county went unclaimed by families who could not afford funeral expenses. A total of 712 bodies in Los Angles County were cremated with taxpayers’ money in 2008, an increase of 36 percent over the previous year (The Los Angeles Times, July 21, 2009).
The population in hunger was the highest in 14 years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Nov. 16, 2009, that 49.1 million Americans living in 17 million households, or 14.6 percent of all American families, lacked consistent access to adequate food in 2008, up 31 percent from the 13 million households, or 11.1 percent of all American families, that lacked stable and adequate supply of food in 2007, which was the highest since the government began tracking “food insecurity” in 1995 (The New York Times, November 17, 2009; 14.6% of Americans Could Not Afford Enough Food in 2008, http://business.theatlantic.com). The number of people who lacked “food security,” rose from 4.7 million in 2007 to 6.7 million in 2008 (http://www.livescience.com, November 26, 2009). About 15 percent of families were still working for adequate food and clothing (The Associated Press, November 27, 2009). Statistics showed 36.5 million Americans, or about one eighth of the U.S. total population, took part in the food stamp program in August 2009, up 7.1 million from that of 2008. However, only two thirds of those eligible for food stamps actually received them (http://www.associatedcontent.com).
Workers’ rights were seriously violated. The New York Times reported on Sept. 2, 2009 that 68 percent of the 4,387 low-wage workers in a survey said they had experienced reduction of wages. And 76 percent of those who had worked overtime were not paid accordingly, and 57 percent of those interviewed had not received pay documents to make sure pay was legal and accurate. Only eight percent of those who suffered serious injuries on the job filed for compensation. Up to 26 percent of those surveyed were paid less than the national minimum wage. Among those who complained about wages or treatment, 43 percent had experienced retaliation or dismissal (The New York Times, September 2, 2009). According to a report by the USA Today on July 20, 2009, a total of 5,657 people died at workplaces across the U.S. in 2007, about 17 deaths each day. About 200,000 workers in New York State were injured or sickened at workplaces each year (USA Today, July 20, 2009).
The number of people without medical insurance has kept rising for eight consecutive years. Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 10, 2009, showed 46.3 million people were without medical insurance in 2008, accounting for 15.4 percent of the total population, comparing 45.7 million people who were without medical insurance in 2007, which was a rise for the eighth year in a row. About 20.3 percent of Americans between 18 to 64 years old were not covered by medical insurance in 2008, higher than the 19.6 percent in 2007 (http://www.census.gov). A study released by the Commonwealth Fund showed health insurance coverage of adults aged 18 to 64 declined in 31 U.S. states from 2007 to 2009 (Reuters, October 8, 2009). The number of states with extremely high number of adults who were not covered by medical insurance increased from two in 1999 to nine in 2009. More than one in every four people in Texas were uninsured, the highest percentage among all states (http://www.ncpa.org). Houston had 40.1 percent of its residents uninsured (http://www.msnbc.msn.com). In 2008, altogether 2,266 U.S. veterans under the age of 65 died for lack of health insurance coverage or medical care, 14 times higher than the U.S. military death toll in Afghanistan that year (AFP, November 11, 2009). A report by the Consumer International showed 34 percent of U.S. families with annual income below 50,000 U.S. dollars and 21 percent of homes with annual income exceeding 100,000 U.S. dollars lost medical insurance or suffered reduction in medical insurance in 2009. In addition, two thirds of households with annual income below 50,000 U.S. dollars and one third of homes earning more than 100,000 U.S. dollars a year cut their medical expenses last year. About 28 percent Americans chose not to see a doctor when they fell ill; a quarter of them could not afford medical bills; 22 percent postponed medical treatment; a fifth of them did not buy medicine prescribed by doctors or undergo medical checkups; 15 percent took expired drugs or did not follow medical instructions to take medicine on time in order to save money (http://www.oregonlive.com). According to a report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on December 8, 2009, average life expectancy of Americans was 78.1 years in 2007, ranking the fourth from bottom among all member states of OECD. The average life expectancy of OECD member states was 79.1 that year (http://www.msnbc.msn.com).
The number of homeless has been on the rise. Statistics show that by September 2008, an upward of 1.6 million homeless people in the U.S. had been receiving shelter, and the number of those in families rose from 473,000 in 2007 to 517,000 in 2008 (USA Today, July 9, 2009). Since 2009, homeless enrollments in the six counties of Chicago area had climbed, with McHenry County seeing the biggest hike – an increase of 125 percent over the previous year (Chicago Tribune, November 28, 2009). These families could only live in shabby places such as wagons. In March 2009, a sprawling tent city was seen in Sacramento of California where hundreds of homeless gathered. Police in Santa Monica of southern California even regularly used force to drive the homeless out of the city (www.truthalyzer.com). In October, several thousand homeless in Detroit got into a fight, worrying they might not receive the government’s housing subsidies (USA Today, October 8, 2009). In December, there were 6,975 homeless single adults in shelters in New York City, not including military veterans, chronically homeless people, and the 30,698 people living in short-term housing for homeless families (The New York Times, December 10, 2009). The Houston Chronicle reported on March 16, 2009 that large numbers of houses in Galveston were destroyed by Hurricane Ike in September 2008, leaving thousands homeless. About 1,700 households did not receive any aid and most of them do not have fixed residences (Houston Chronicle, March 16, 2009).
IV. On Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination is still a chronic problem of the United States.
Black people and other minorities are the most impoverished groups in the United States. According to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Census, the real median income for American households in 2008 was 50,303 U.S. dollars. That of the non-Hispanic white households was 55,530 U.S. dollars, Hispanic households 37,913 U.S. dollars, black households only 34,218 U.S. dollars. The median incomes of Hispanic and black households were roughly 68 percent and 61.6 percent of that of the non-Hispanic white households. Median income of minority groups was about 60 to 80 percent of that of majority groups under the same conditions of education and skill background (The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2009; USA Today, September 11, 2009). According to the U.S. Bureau of Census, the poverty proportion of the non-Hispanic white was 8.6 percent in 2008, those of African-Americans and Hispanic were 24.7 percent and 23.2 percent respectively, almost three times of that of the white (The New York Times, September 29, 2009). About one quarter of American Indians lived below the poverty line. In 2008, 30.7 percent of Hispanic, 19.1 percent of African-Americans and 14.5 percent of non-Hispanic white lived without health insurance (Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008, http://www.census.gov). According to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, a record 10,552 fair housing discrimination complaints were filed in fiscal 2008, 35 percent of which were alleged race discrimination (The Washington Post, June 10, 2009). The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that while African-Americans make up 12 percent of the US population, they represent nearly half of new HIV infections and AIDS deaths every year (The Wall Street Journal, April 8, 2009; revised statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
Employment and occupational discrimination against minority groups is very serious. Minority groups bear the brunt of the U.S. unemployment. According to news reports, the U.S. unemployment rate in October 2009 was 10.2 percent. The jobless rate of the U.S. African-Americans jumped to 15.7 percent, that of the Hispanic rose to 13.1 percent and that of the white was 9.5 percent (USA Today, November 6, 2009). Unemployment rate of the black aged between 16 and 24 saw a record high of 34.5 percent, more than three times the average rate. Unemployment rates for the black in cities such as Detroit and Milwaukee had reached 20 percent (The Washington Post, December 10, 2009). In some American Indians communities, unemployment rate was as high as 80 percent (The China Press, November 6, 2009). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for black male college graduates aged 25 and older in 2009 has been twice that of white male college graduates, 8.4 percent compared with 4.4 percent (The New York Times, December 1, 2009). In 2008, a record number of workers filed federal job discrimination complaints, with allegations of race discrimination making up the greatest portion at more than one-third of the 95,000 total claims (AP, April 27, 2009). According to an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a Houston-based oil and gas drilling company faced five complaints of racial harassment and discrimination (AP, November 18, 2009). According to a news report, by the end of May 2009, the black and Hispanic groups each accounted for roughly 27 percent of New York City’s population, but only 3 percent of the 11,529 firefighters were black, and about 6 percent were Hispanic since the city’s fire department unfairly excluded hundreds of qualified people of color from the opportunity to serve (The New York Times, July 23, 2009).
The U.S. minority groups face discriminations in education. According to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Census, 33 percent of the non-Hispanic white has college degrees, proportion of the black was only 20 percent and Hispanic was 13 percent (US Bureau of Census, April 27, 2009, http://www.census.gov). According to a report, from 2003 to 2008, 61 percent of black applicants and 46 percent of Mexican-American applicants were denied acceptance at all of the law schools to which they applied, compared with 34 percent of white applicants (The New York Times, January 7, 2010). African-American children accounted for only 17 percent of the U.S. public school students, but accounted for 32 percent of the total number which were expelled from the schools. According to a research by the University of North Carolina and Michigan State University, most of the black juvenile believed that they were victims of racial discrimination (Science Daily, April 29, 2009). According to another study conducted among 5,000 children in Birmingham, Ala., Houston and Los Angeles, prejudice was reported by 20 percent of blacks and 15 percent of Hispanics. The study showed that racial discrimination was an important cause to mental health problems for children of varied races. Hispanic children who reported racism were more than three times as likely as other children to have symptoms of depression, blacks were more than twice as likely (USA Today, May 5, 2009).
Racial discrimination in law enforcement and judicial system is very distinct. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, by the end of 2008, 3,161 men and 149 women per 100,000 persons in the U.S. black population were under imprisonment (www.ojp.usdoj.gov). The number of life imprisonment without parole given to African-American young people was ten times of that given to white young people in 25 states. The figure in California was 18 times. In major U.S. cities, there are more than one million people who were stopped and questioned by police in streets, nearly 90 percent of them were minority males. Among those questioned, 50 percent were African-Americans and 30 percent were Hispanics. Only 10 percent were white people (The China Press, October 9, 2009). A report released by New York City Police Department, of the people involved in police shootings whose ethnicity could be determined in 2008, 75 percent were black, 22 percent were Hispanic; and 3 percent were white (The New York Times, November 17, 2009). According to a report by Human Rights Watch, from 1980 to 2007, the ratio of the African-Americans being arrested for dealing drugs across the U.S. was 2.8 to 5.5 times of that of the white (www.hrw.org, March 2, 2009).
Since the Sept. 11 event, discrimination against Muslims is increasing. Nearly 58 percent of Americans think Muslims are subject to “a lot” of discrimination, according to two combined surveys released by the Pew Research Center. About 73 percent of young people aged 18 to 29 are more likely to say Muslims are the most discriminated against (http://www.washingtontimes.com, September 10, 2009).
Immigrants live in misery. According to a report by the U.S. branch of Amnesty International, more than 300,000 illegal immigrants were detained by U.S. immigration authorities each year, and the illegal immigrants under custody exceeded 30,000 for each single day (World Journal, March 26, 2009). At the same time, hundreds of legal immigrants were put under arrest, denied entry or even sent back under escort every year (Sing Tao Daily, April 13, 2009). A report released by the Constitution Project and Human Rights Watch revealed that from 1999 to 2008, about 1.4 million detained immigrants were transferred. Tens of thousands of longtime residents of cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia were sent, by force, to remote immigrant jails in Texas or Louisiana (The New York Times, November 2, 2009). The New York City Bar Association received a startling petition in October 2008 which was signed by 100 men, all locked up without criminal charges in the Varick Street Detention Facility in the middle of Manhattan. The letter described their cramped, filthy quarters where dire medical needs were ignored and hungry prisoners were put to work for 1 dollar a day (The New York Times, November 2, 2009). Some detained women who were still in lactation period were denied breast pumps in the facilities, resulting in fever, pain, mastitis, and the inability to continue breastfeeding upon release (www.hrw.org, March 16, 2009). A total of 104 people have died while in custody of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency since October, 2003 (The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2009).
Ethnic hatred crimes are frequent. According to statistics released by the U.S. Federal Investigation Bureau on November 23, 2009, a total of 7,783 hate crimes occurred in 2008 in the United States, 51.3 percent of which were originated by racial discrimination and 19.5 percent were for religious bias and 11.5 percent were for national origins (www.fbi.gov). Among those hate crimes, more than 70 percent were against black people. In 2008, anti-black offenses accounted for 26 persons per 1,000 people, and anti-white crimes accounted for 18 persons per 1,000 people (victim characteristics, October 21, 2009, http://www.fbi.gov). On June 10, 2009, a white supremacist gunned down a black guard of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with another two wounded (The Washington Post, June 11, 2009, The Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2009). According to a report issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an environment of racial intolerance and ethnic hatred, fostered by anti-immigrant groups and some public officials, has helped fuel dozens of attacks on Latinos in Suffolk County of New York State during the past decade (The New York Times, September 3, 2009).
V. On the Rights of Women and Children
The living conditions of women and children in the United States are deteriorating and their rights are not properly guaranteed.
Women do not enjoy equal social and political status as men. Women account for 51 percent of the U.S. population, but only 92 women, or 17 percent of the seats, serve in the current 111th U.S. Congress. Seventeen women serve in the Senate and 75 women serve in the House (Members of the 111th United States Congress, http://en.wikipedia.org). A study shows minorities and women are unlikely to hold top positions at big U.S. charities and nonprofits. The study reveals that women make up 18.8 percent of nonprofit CEOs compared to just 3 percent at Fortune 500 companies. Among the 400 biggest charities in the U.S., no cultural organization, hospital, public affairs group, Jewish federation or other religious organization is headed by a woman (The Washington Times, September 20, 2009).
Women have difficulties in finding a job and suffer from low income and poor financial situations. According to statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide rose to 95,402 during Fiscal Year 2008, a 15 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. Charge of workplace discrimination because of a job applicant’s sex maintained a high proportion (www.eeoc.gov, November 3, 2009). According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau in September 2009, the median incomes of full-time female workers in 2008 were 35,745 U.S. dollars, 77 percent of those of corresponding men whose median earnings were 46,367 U.S. dollars, which is lower than the 78 percent in 2007 (The Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2009; http://www.census.gov, September 10, 2009). According to the Associated Press, a female pharmacist who had been working for Walmart for ten years was fired in 2004 for demanding the same income as her male counterparts (The Associated Press, October 5, 2009). By the end of 2008, 4.2 million, or 28.7 percent of families with a female householder where no husband is present were poor (www.census.gov, September 10, 2009). About 64 million, or 70 percent of working-age American women have no health insurance coverage, or have inadequate coverage, high medical bills or debt problems, or problems in accessing care because of cost (The China Press, May 12, 2009).
Women are frequent victims of violence and sexual assault. It is reported that the United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan (Occurrence of rape, http://www.sa.rochester.edu). In San Diego, a string of similar attacks happened to five women who have been sexually assaulted by a home invader in March 2009 (Sing Tao Daily, March 14, 2009). According to a report released by the Pentagon, more than 2,900 sexual assaults in the military were reported in 2008, up nearly 9 percent from the year before. And of those, only 292 cases resulted in a military trial. The report said the actual numbers of such cases could be five to ten times of the reported figure (The evening news of the Columbia Broadcasting System, March 17, 2009). Reuters reported that based on in-depth interviews on 40 servicewomen, 10 said they had been raped, five said they were sexually assaulted including attempted rape, and 13 reported sexual harassment (Reuters, April 16, 2009).
American children suffer from hunger and cold. A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that 16.7 million children, or one fourth of the U.S. total, had not enough food in 2008 (The Washington Post, USA Today, November 17, 2009). The food relief institution Feeding America said in a report that more than 3.5 million children under the age of five face hunger or malnutrition. This figure accounts for 17 percent of American children aged five and under. In 11 states, more than 20 percent of young children were at risk for hunger. Louisiana, with 24.2 percent, had the highest rate of child food insecurity (www.feedingamerica.org, May 7, 2009). Children at or below 18 account for more than one third of the U.S. people in poverty. Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau showed that the number of children younger than 18 who live in poverty increased from 13.3 million in 2007 to 14.1 million in 2008 (http://www.census.gov, The Washington Post, September 11, 2009). According to statistics from the U.S-based National Center on Family Homelessness, from 2005 to 2006, more than 1.5 million children, or one in every 50 children, were homeless in the U.S. every year. Among the homeless children, 42 percent were younger than 6 and the majority were African-Americans and Indians (CNN.com, MSNBUC.com, March 10, 2009). In 2008, nearly one tenth of the children in the United States were not covered by health insurance. It was reported that about 7.3 million children, or 9.9 percent of the American total, were without health insurance in 2008. In Nevada, 20.2 percent of the children were uncovered by insurance (http://www.census.gov, the Washington Post, September 21). On August 13, 2009, a state board voted that California will begin terminating health insurance for more than 60,000 children on October 1. The program could ultimately drop nearly 670,000 children by the end of June 2010 (The Los Angeles Times, The China Press, August 14, 2009). A research led by the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center showed that lack of health insurance might have led or contributed to nearly 17,000 deaths among hospitalized children in the U.S. in the span of less than two decades (Journal of Public Health, October 30, 2009). The A/H1N1 flu has infected about 8 million children under 18 from April to October 2009, killing 540 of them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States (USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, November 13, 2009).
Children are exposed to violence and living in fear. It is reported that 1,494 children younger than 18 nationwide were murdered in 2008 (USA Today, October 8, 2009). A report released by the Health Department of the New York City on June 16, 2009 showed that between 2001 and 2007, the national average rate of child deaths was 20 per 100,000 children aged 1 to 12 years. Homicide rates were 1.3 deaths per 100,000 among the group (http://www.nyc.gov). A survey conducted by the U.S. Justice Department on 4,549 kids and adolescents aged 17 and younger between January and May of 2008 showed, more than 60 percent of children surveyed were exposed to violence within the past year, either directly or indirectly. Nearly half of all children surveyed were assaulted at least once in the past year, about 6 percent were victimized sexually, and 13 percent reported having been physically bullied in the past year (The Associated Press, October 7, 2009). There have been at least 1,227 children died from abuse or neglect in Texas since 2002 (The Houston Chronicle, October 22, 2009). According to research of U.S.-based institution and public health media reports, in the U.S., one third of children who run away or were expelled from home performed sexual acts in exchange for food, drugs and a place to stay every year. The justice system no longer considers them as young victims, but as juvenile offenders (The China Press, October 28, 2009).
Child farmworkers are prevalent. An organization devoted to protecting children’s rights disclosed that as many as 400,000 children are estimated to work on U.S. farms. Davis Strauss, executive director of the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, noted that for decades, children, some as young as eight years old, have labored in the fields using sharp tools and toiling amongst dangerous pesticides. The association’s president Ernie Flores said children account for about 20 percent of all farm fatalities in the United States (Spain’s Uprising newspaper, October 14, 2009). A labor standards act permits a child beyond 13 to work in heat for long time in a farm, but does not permit that child to work in an air-conditioned office and even forbids them working in a fast food restaurant.
The U.S. is the only country in the world that does not apply parole system to minors. Detentions of juveniles have increased 44 percent from 1985 to 2002. Many children only committed only minor crimes but could not get assistance from lawyers. Many procurators and judges turned a blind eye on abuse in juvenile prisons.
VI. On U.S. Violations of Human Rights against Other Nations
The United States with its strong military power has pursued hegemony in the world, trampling upon the sovereignty of other countries and trespassing their human rights.
As the world’s biggest arms seller, its deals have greatly fueled instability across the world. The United States also expanded its military spending, already the largest in the world, by 10 percent in 2008 to 607 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for 42 percent of the world total (The AP, June 9, 2009).
According to a report by the U.S. Congress, the U.S. foreign arms sales in 2008 soared to 37.8 billion U.S. dollars from 25.4 billion a year earlier, up by nearly 50 percent, accounting for 68.4 percent of the global arms sales that were at its four-year low (Reuters, September 6, 2009). At the beginning of 2010, the U.S. government announced a 6.4-billion-U.S. dollar arms sales package to Taiwan despite strong protest from the Chinese government and people, which seriously damaged China’s national security interests and aroused strong indignation among the Chinese people.
The wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have placed heavy burden on American people and brought tremendous casualties and property losses to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. The war in Iraq has led to the death of more than 1million Iraqi civilians, rendered an equal number of people homeless and incurred huge economic losses. In Afghanistan, incidents of the U.S. army killing innocent people still keep occurring. Five Afghan farmers were killed in a U.S. air strike when they were loading cucumbers into a van on August 5, 2009 (http://www.rawa.org). On June 8, the U.S. Department of Defense admitted that the U.S. raid on Taliban on May 5 caused death of Afghan civilians as the military failed to abide by due procedures. The Afghan authorities have identified 147 civilian victims, including women and children, while a U.S. officer put the death toll under 30 (The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 9, 2009).
Prisoner abuse is one of the biggest human rights scandals of the United States. A report presented to the 10th meeting of Human Rights Council of the United Nations in 2009 by its Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism showed that the United States has pursued a comprehensive set of practices including special deportation, long-term and secret detentions and acts violating the United Nations Convention against Torture. The rapporteur also said, in a report submitted to the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations, that the United States and its private contractors tortured male Muslims detained in Iraq and other places by stacking the naked prisoners in pyramid formation, coercing the homosexual sexual behaviors and stripping them in stark nakedness (The Washington Post, April 7, 2009). The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has begun interrogation by torture since 2002. The U.S. government lawyers disclosed that since 2001, CIA has destroyed 92 videotapes relating to the interrogation to suspected terrorists, 12 of them including the use of torture (The Washington Post, March 3, 2009). The CIA interrogators used a handgun and an electric drill to frighten a captured al-Qaeda commander into giving up information (The Washington Post, August 22, 2009). The U.S. Justice Department memos revealed the CIA kept prisoners shackled in a standing position for as long as 180 hours, more than a dozen of them deprived of sleep for at least 48 hours, three for more than 96 hours, and one for the nearly eight-day maximum. Another seemed to endorse sleep deprivation for 11 days, stated on one memo (http://www.chron.com). The CIA interrogators used waterboarding 183 times against the accused 9/11 major plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and 83 times against suspected Al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah (The New York Times, April 20, 2009). A freed Guantanamo prisoner said he experienced the “medieval” torture at Guantanamo Bay and in a secret CIA prison in Kabul (AFP, London, March 7, 2009). In June 2006, three Guantanamo Bay inmates could have been suffocated to death during interrogation on the same evening and their deaths passed off as suicides by hanging, revealed by a six-month joint investigation for Harpers Magazine and NBC News in 2009 (www.guardian.co.uk, January 18, 2010). A Somali named Mohamed Saleban Bare, jailed at Guantanamo Bay for eight years, told AFP the prison was “hell on earth” and some of his colleagues lost sight and limbs and others ended up mentally disturbed (AFP, Hargisa, Somali, December 21, 2009). A 31-year-old Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay who had been on a long hunger strike apparently committed suicide in 2009 after four prior suicide deaths beginning at 2002 (The New York Times, June 3, 2009). The U.S. government held more than 600 prisoners at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. A United Nations report singled out the Bagram detention facility for criticism, saying some ex-detainees allege being subjected to severe torture, even sexual abuse, and some prisoners put under detention for as long as five years. It also reported that some were held in cages containing 15 to 20 men and that two detainees died in questionable circumstances while in custody (IPS, New York, February 25, 2009). An investigation by U.S. Justice Department showed 2,000 Taliban surrendered combatants were suffocated to death by the U.S. army-controlled Afghan armed forces (http://www.yourpolicicsusa.com, July 16, 2009).
The United States has been building its military bases around the world, and cases of violation of local people’s human rights are often seen. The United States is now maintaining 900 bases worldwide, with more than 190,000 military personnel and 115,000 relevant staff stationed. These bases are bringing serious damage and environmental contamination to the localities. Toxic substances caused by bomb explosions are taking their tolls on the local children. It has been reported that toward the end of the U.S. military bases’ presence in Subic and Clark, as many as 3,000 cases of raping the local women had been filed against the U.S. servicemen, but all were dismissed (http://www.lexisnexis.com, May 17, 2009).
The United States has been maintaining its economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba for almost 50 years. The blockade has caused an accumulated direct economic loss of more than 93 billion U.S. dollars to Cuba. On October 28, 2009, the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution on the “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba,” with a recorded vote of 187 in favor to three against, and two abstentions. This marked the 18th consecutive year the assembly had overwhelmingly called on the United States to lift the blockade without delay (Overwhelming International Rejection of US Blockade of Cuba at UN, http://www.cubanews.ain.cu).
The United States is pushing its hegemony under the pretence of “Internet freedom.” The United States monopolizes the strategic resources of the global Internet, and has been retaining a tight grip over the Internet ever since its first appearance. There are currently 13 root servers of Internet worldwide, and the United States is the place where the only main root server and nine out of the rest 12 root servers are located. All the root servers are managed by the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), which is, by the authority of the U.S. government, responsible for the management of the global root server system, the domain name system and the Internet Protocol address. The United States has declined all the requests from other countries as well as international organizations including the United Nations to break the U.S. monopoly over the root servers and to decentralize its management power over the Internet. The United States has been intervening in other countries’ domestic affairs in various ways taking advantage of its control over Internet resources. The United States has a special troop of hackers, which is made up of hacker proficients recruited from all over the world. When post-election unrest broke out in Iran in the summer of 2009, the defeated reformist camp and its advocators used Internet tools such as Twitter to spread their messages. The U.S. State Department asked the operator of Twitter to delay its scheduled maintenance to assist with the opposition in creating a favorable momentum of public opinion. In May 2009, one web company, prompted by the U.S. authorities, blocked its Messenger instant messaging service in five countries including Cuba.
The United States is using a global interception system named “ECHELON” to eavesdrop on communications worldwide. A report of the European Parliament pointed out that the “ECHELON” system is a network controlled by the United States for intelligence gathering and analyzing. The system is able to intercept and monitor the content of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other digital information transmitted via public telephone networks, satellites and microwave links. The European Parliament has criticized the United States for using its “ECHELON” system to commit crimes such as civilian’s privacy infringement or state-conducted industrial espionage, among which was the most striking case of Saudi Arabia’s 6-billion-dollar aircraft contract (see Wikipedia). Telephone calls of British Princess Diana had been intercepted and eavesdropped because her global campaign against land-mines was in conflict with the U.S. policies. The Washington Post once reported that such spying activities conducted by the U.S. authorities were reminiscent of the Vietnam War when the United States imposed wiretapping and surveillance upon domestic anti-war activists.
The United States ignores international human rights conventions, and takes a passive attitude toward international human rights obligations. It signed the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 32 years ago and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 29 years ago, but has ratified neither of them yet. It has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities either. On Sept. 13, 2007, the 61st UN General Assembly voted to adopt the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which has been the UN’s most authoritative and comprehensive document to protect the rights of indigenous peoples. The United States also refused to recognize the declaration.
The above-mentioned facts show that the United States not only has a bad domestic human rights record, but also is a major source of many human rights disasters around the world. For a long time, it has placed itself above other countries, considered itself “world human rights police” and ignored its own serious human rights problems. It releases Country Reports on Human Rights Practices year after year to accuse other countries and takes human rights as a political instrument to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs, defame other nations’ image and seek its own strategic interests. This fully exposes its double standards on the human rights issue, and has inevitably drawn resolute opposition and strong denouncement from world people. At a time when the world is suffering a serious human rights disaster caused by the U.S. subprime crisis-induced global financial crisis, the U.S. government still ignores its own serious human rights problems but revels in accusing other countries. It is really a pity.
We hereby advise the U.S. government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.