Under the heading “Immigrants,” in the “concluding observations” portion of the report, the committee questions the “mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners” and then addresses health care for those in the United States illegally.
“Finally, the Committee expresses concerns about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the U.S. for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties in access of immigrants to adequate health care,” the report states.
The Human Rights Committee, which comprises 18 independent legal experts who serve for four years, is a separate entity to the Human Rights Council (HRC), also based in Geneva, which the Obama administration joined in 2009.
“We’re committed to advancing a strong human rights agenda, working with multiple partners from all regions of the world,” then-Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said in September 2009, the day the U.S. took up its seat on the HRC for the first time.
This latest report is the culmination of a lengthy process that began with the federal government in December 2011 submitting a 188-page report on its compliance with the ICCPR and its 27 articles, which range from “self-determination” to “the rights of minorities to culture, religion and language.”
Aside from the U.S. report, the committee also received submissions from non-governmental organizations, covering numerous, often-controversial issues such as the “disproportionate minority impact of felon disfranchisement” (Florida ACLU); “abusive counterterrorism policies” (Human Rights Watch); “restrictive abortion laws” and “the impact of religious refusal laws on women’s reproductive healthcare” (Center for Reproductive Rights); and “discrimination” against immigrants, people of color, Muslims, sex workers and LGBT persons (Human Rights Watch).
The report includes commentary on the “stop and frisk” policy in New York City – a policy that former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said reduced murder rates and gun crimes and current Mayor Bill de Blasio ended – labeled “Racial Profiling.”
“While welcoming plans to reform the ‘stop and frisk’ program in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities, and the surveillance of Muslims undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing,” the U.N. report states.
The report also states that the death penalty – which is legal in 32 states – should “not be imposed as a result of racial bias.”
Unmanned aircraft, or drones, are also targeted in the report, which recommends that the U.S. “revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks.”
Under the heading “Gun Violence,” the U.N. calls for “legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers,” and suggests a “review of Stand Your Ground Laws.”
Even discipline in private American homes is addressed in the report.
“The Committee is concerned about the use of corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home, and all forms of child care at federal, state and local levels,” the report states.
Other human rights concerns in the U.S.: Detainees at Guantanamo Bay, NSA surveillance, human trafficking and forced labor, domestic violence, “criminalization” of homelessness, voting rights (no voter I.D. and restored rights for felons, the committee suggests) and the rights of indigenous people.