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CA Takes Historic Human Rights Steps

Sans Francisco Bay View, News Report
Sacramento—In a historic step, the California Assembly voted to make California the first state to publicize the text of three U.N. treaties on human rights and to submit the required reports to the State Department for consideration by the U.N. treaty committees. The Assembly voted to pass ACR120, the Human Rights Reporting legislation, by a vote of 52 to 11, with 16 abstentions. The legislation will now move to the state Senate.

The International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination requires the U.S. to publicize the text at the federal, state and local levels and to make periodic reports to the U.N. Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination every two years on complaints of racial discrimination in every aspect of life and on progress in eliminating such discrimination.

The U.S. ratified this treaty in 1994 and has issued some of the required reports, but has never publicized the text nor has it sought or included information from each state, as required. Now the California Assembly has voted to publicize and make the required reports.

The International Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment was ratified by the U.S. in 1994. It requires reporting every four years on misconduct and proper conduct by police, prison guards, human services agents and everyone in government and what steps the government is taking to correct reported problems.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights requires reports to the U.N. Human Rights Committee every five years on violations and enforcement, of freedom of assembly, labor union rights, rights of children, immigrants, LGBT. When the Senate passes this Assembly Concurrent Resolution 129, California will collect the information it already gathers and submit it to the State Department for submission to the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

The City of Berkeley in December 2009 voted to become the first U.S. city to make reports under these treaties. City officials now state that collecting the information for the reports has heightened concern about human rights at City Hall.

Rev. Daniel Buford, president of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute in Berkeley and director of Prophetic Justice Ministry for Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, testified before the Assembly Appropriations Committee before adoption of the resolution. He reported that he found the three treaties very helpful in working on justice in the killing of Oscar Grant by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle last year.

Attorney Ann Fagan Ginger, founder of MCLI, reports enthusiastic response when she describes the treaties to African American, Asian American, Latino and human rights organizations, students, unions and people working on health care, prison conditions, the homeless, immigrant rights, ecology and all other human rights related issues.

 



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