UNHRC Questions US on Treatment of Indigenous Peoples

UNHRC Questions US on Treatment of Indigenous Peoples

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John Ahni Schertow
July 19, 2006
 

San Francisco, CA. July 19, 2006: A United Nations Committee of Human Rights Experts today ended their questioning of representatives of the United States regarding the United States required periodic report, submitted to the UN on November 28, 2005. They were asked to respond to written questions relating to United States’ implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by the US in 1992. The Committee on Human Rights, that monitors compliance with human rights obligations under the Covenant raised questions pertaining to land rights of Native Americans and the use of the “Doctrine of Discovery” and its consequences on the rights of Native Americans to self-determination, language, culture and religion.

The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC) an indigenous Non-Governmental Organization submitted a parallel report June 15, 2006 in response to the report submitted by the U.S. In its parallel report to the UN Human Rights Committee, the IITC pointed out that the U.S. violates the rights of Indigenous Peoples under the Covenant’s articles 1, 2,18 and 27.

The concerns raised by IITC address the legal consequences of the United States’ continued reliance on the “Doctrine of Discovery” and conquest in its relationship with Indian Tribes and the use of the Plenary Powers doctrine that allows the United States to violate and abrogate with impunity Treaties it signed with Indian Nations. The IITC also questioned the notion that indigenous peoples must be “dependent” on the federal government to exercise the right of self-determination and raised the problems of Native Hawai’ians and Native Alaskans and their rights as Peoples under Article 1 the Covenant. The violations of Native Americans’ right to religious freedom with regard to their traditional spiritual practices and sacred sites were also raised.

The committee will issue its final report and recommendations later in its current session which is due to conclude July 28, 2006.

For more information visit: www.treatycouncil.org for the IITC parallel report, and www.ohchr.org for the Committee’s written questions, the US Periodic Report and its responses in writing to the Committee’s questions. Contact Alberto Saldamando, General Counsel, IITC, 2390 Mission Street, San Francisco CA. 94110, (415) 641-4482, alberto@treatycouncil.org .

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