"As societies build walls of separation between communities,
ICAAD works to remove each brick to illuminate our common humanity"

UPR: United States of America (USA), 22nd Session, 2015

Executive Summary

This report examines the United States’ (U.S.) compliance with its international human rights obligations in the protection of minorities and vulnerable groups from hate crimes and related discrimination. During the U.S.’ first cycle through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), amongst 27 recommendations to the U.S. in relation to racial discrimination, five recommendations, by Ecuador, Venezuela, Egypt, Bangladesh, and Iran dealt with specifically with xenophobia and hate crimes. The recommendations on this issue came as no surprise as hate crimes and racially, ethnically, and religiously motivated violence against minorities and other vulnerable groups have been a consistent part of American history.

While the U.S. made progress in its hate crimes legal framework with the adoption of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in 2009, revisiting coding of particularly effected communities, and by pursuing more aggressive enforcement by Federal Agencies, as this report reveals, the U.S. government continues to fail to protect minority communities from hate crimes through a combination of inadequate data collection, documenting only 3% of hate crimes, limited training of law enforcement to investigate and document hate crimes, and a failure to devote resources to monitor domestic extremists with supremacist ideologies.

The information submitted in this report is culled from a number of studies, analysis of statistics provided primarily by governmental sources, and comes through the experience of ICAAD’s attorneys working directly on hate crime cases, primarily involving incidents against Sikhs of South Asian descent.

  1. First Cycle Recommendations, Follow-Up, and the Recent Conclusions of the CERD Committee

Five countries gave recommendations directly associated with hate crimes and xenophobic acts in the first cycle. While all the recommendations requested that the U.S. take action to combat xenophobia, Ecuador’s recommendation referenced specific hate crimes against Ecuadorian nationals, and the recommendations of Iran and Egypt reference discriminatory acts against Arabs and Muslims. This is significant because of the number of high-profile incidents involving migrants, and the sustained increase in attacks against the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian communities in the 13 years following the September 11, 2011 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

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On May 17, 2019, ICAAD Advisor Erin Thomas’ publication: Compacts of Free Association in FSM, RMI, and Palau: Implications for the 2023-2024 Renewal Negotiations (hrbrief.org/2019/03/compacts-of-free-association-in-fsm-rmi-and-palau-implications-for-the-2023-2...) was cited by the President of Palau, Tommy Remengesau Jr., in an op-ed published in The Hill (thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/foreign-policy/444291-pacific-defense-pact-renewal-vital-to-the-u...). In her piece, Erin points to critical issues stakeholders have raised regarding human trafficking, adoption policies, and COFA migrant rights among other important human rights issues.

Some of the above-mentioned policy gaps span several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly 10 (reduced inequalities) and 17 (partnership for the goals). Holistically, the existing COFA agreements represent the type of inequity that SDG 10 seeks to address. SDG 17 promotes inclusive and participatory decision-making at the international, national, and local levels. Developing transparency on both sides will allow for a more equitable process and outcome for the renewal negotiations.

The issues within the existing agreements also involve SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) and limited access to justice regarding redress for nuclear testing and environmental destruction. This impacts targets and indicators including SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 3 (good health and well-being). Finally, SDG 10 and 8’s targets for responsible migration policies are important considering the limited provisions for COFA migrants in the U.S. and U.S. territories.
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