Time Sensitive: Announcing the Latest UN Visit

For Immediate Release: October 12, 2016

Contact: Jess St. Louis, jstlouis@ushrnetwork.org, 404-588-9761 x104

IN LATEST UN VISIT, HUMAN RIGHTS EXPERTS TO EXAMINE ARBITRARY DETENTION IN THE U.S.

WILL VISIT THREE STATES AS WELL AS WASHINGTON, D.C.

ATLANTA, GAThe U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention began its 13-day visit to the United States yesterday in Washington, DC to examine instances and conditions of arbitrary detention across the country. During the visit, they will be meeting with civil society advocates, victims, lawyers, judges, researchers, and directly impacted people. While the Working Group will begin and end their visit in Washington, DC; they will also visit Texas, California, and Illinois.

 “The issue of arbitrary detention impacts multiple communities across the US. We see people – including entire families – being detained for being undocumented. Thousands of people are being held in jail without being sentenced for their inability to pay expensive fines and fees every day – many for unjust ‘quality of life’ offenses and low-level traffic offenses that target poor, Black, and LGBTQ people. We have political prisoners who have been targeted for exercising their human rights to freedom of speech and association. These are some of the many unjust forms of arbitrary detention taking place in the United States and we hope that the Working Group’s visit can elevate these issues and instill a sense of urgency in policymakers to provide relief to people who are suffering now,” said Vickie Casanova Willis, President of the National Conference of Black Lawyers.

 Since 2013, the Working Group has visited 9 countries, including Western countries such as Germany, Italy, and New Zealand. In these visits, the WG’s findings typically covered two arbitrary detention-related issue areas: criminal justice and immigration.

 "The working group's visit to Texas is especially meaningful. The conditions of arbitrary detention in Texas show are both emblematic of the problem across the U.S. and of some of the worst,” said Christina Parker, Grassroots Leadership’s Immigration Programs Director. “In Texas, we are locking up asylum-seekers, migrants who have been prosecuted for crossing the border and even mothers and children in mass numbers, effectively writing human rights violation into policy."

 The Working group will share its preliminary observations to the media during a press conference to be held at the United Nations Information Center in Washington D.C. on October 24, 2016 at 11:30am. If you are interested in attending the press conference, please forward your name and the name of your organization to Ms. Karen F. Smyth (smythk@un.org, 1-202-454-2016).

 “Chicago has been exposed as the false confession and police torture capital, with racist policies and practices decimating Black and Brown families and communities,” Vickie Casanova Willis continued. “The harsh sentences, failed drug war, and school-to-prison pipeline make our criminal punishment system arbitrary and inhumane".

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ABOUT THE US HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK

The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. It is a network of over 300 organizational members that is working to popularize human rights in communities across the United States in order to secure dignity and justice for all.                      www.ushrnetwork.org             www.ncbl.org