New Submission on US Military Justice Noncompliance with the ICCPR

Three legal experts (Eugene R. Fidell, Elizabeth L. Hillman, and Nancy Duff Campbell) and two organizations (Amnesty International and The International Commission of Jurists) have shared their most recent submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council in advance of its Universal Periodic Review of the United States. The submission (full text) “identifies major compliance issues” with the United States’ military justice system under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and “calls on reviewing States parties to make recommendations to the United States for remedial action.” The United States is scheduled to be reviewed April-May 2015.

The submission concludes with both overall and specific recommendations, most prominently calling on the US to, “in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, promptly formulate and implement a national action plan, with a concrete timeline and clear targets, to bring all aspects of its military justice system into compliance with the ICCPR.”

Stay tuned at Just Security for a post by Steve Vladeck analyzing this submission. The opening summary of the submission is included below.

The United States is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). The ICCPR applies to the administration of justice through military courts. The United States relies extensively on courts-martial to maintain discipline and punish criminal conduct by its military personnel and certain civilians, but it has not domesticated the ICCPR and its military justice system is noncompliant on a host of critical issues. Although the UN Human Rights Committee (“the Committee”) and other human rights bodies and mechanisms have raised questions about aspects of the military commissions conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including as recently as March of this year, CCPR/C/USA/CO/4, ¶ 21; CCPR/C/USA/CO/3/Rev.1, ¶¶ 5, 14, 20, the Committee has not focused on compliance issues arising from the United States’ far more numerous traditional courts-martial and non-judicial punishments.

[…] The United States will be reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in April-May 2015, during the 20th session of the UPR Working Group. The UPR is concerned with, inter alia, “the extent to which States respect their obligations set out . . . in human rights treaties to which the State is party (human rights treaties ratified by the State concerned).” The UPR of the United States therefore provides a valuable opportunity to draw attention to United States noncompliance with its obligations under the ICCPR with respect to its military justice system. This submission identifies major compliance issues in that system and calls on reviewing States parties to make recommendations to the United States for remedial action.

 

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