Civil liberties are human rights

UUSC upholds individual freedoms in the United States and abroad. In collaboration with diverse coalitions, UUSC works to stop violations of civil liberties — like racial and religious profiling, torture, and more. Most recently, UUSC has focused on protecting the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, including torture survivors, in the U.S. immigration process.

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Unitarian Universalist Service Committee head says, "American officials should be held legally accountable for their behavior under international treaties no matter where those officials are stationed.”
Boston/Cambridge, Mass.
Monday, November 17, 2014

Human rights organization the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) has said that the United States continues to cast itself as a "potential human rights outlaw" by not acknowledging its UN treaty obligations to abstain from torture in facilities the U.S. operates on foreign soil.

The statement follows U.S. responses in Geneva last week before the United Nations Committee Against Torture.

In a statement posted to social media, UUSC President and Chief Executive Officer the Rev. William Schulz said, “It is far past time that the United States acknowledged, as it did [last week] in Geneva, that our obligations under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading (CID) Treatment extend to US-governed territory outside the US mainland." 

Schulz is former executive director of Amnesty International USA and former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association and author of the book What Torture Taught Me and Other Reflections on Justice and Theology.

He called the U.S. to account in its hedging on the treaty, saying, "The fact that the U.S. continues to resist the notion that it has no treaty obligations to abstain from torture or CID in facilities it operates on foreign soil—no matter how firm the current policies against such practices may be—is not only shortsighted but continues to cast the United States as a potential human rights outlaw."

Policies change, treaties are binding

"We know only too well that policies can change," Schulz said. "American officials should be held legally accountable for their behavior under international treaties no matter where those officials are stationed.” UUSC advocacy has continued to call for the U.S. to bar torture from being used in interrogations on U.S. soil and abroad.

UUSC is among other rights organizations, activists and members of Congress including Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and outgoing Colorado Senator Mark Udall who are urging President Obama to release the CIA torture report before the changeover in Congress in January, via an expedited review process -- and with the only redactions made being those deemed truly necessary for national security. 

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Background

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a human rights organization powered by grassroots collaboration, working throughout the United States and 15 countries worldwide. Since 1940, UUSC has fostered social, economic, and environmental justice, protected civil liberties, worked toward a world free from oppression, delivered aid with dignity, and advanced the rights of people left behind during conflicts and natural disasters.
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