Beijing, March 1, 1999
On February 26 the United States issued its "1998 Human Rights Report." Posing as a "human rights judge" once again, it attacked the human rights records of more than 190 countries and regions.
Ignoring the actual situation, the report blamed China for committing "widespread and well documented human rights abuses," but did not say a single word about the human rights problems in the United States.
In fact, the U.S., which often grades human rights records of other countries, won low marks from its own people and the international community.
A U.S. human rights organization called "Peter D. Hart Research Associates" indicated in its survey released on December 10, 1997 that 63 percent of those surveyed believe that poor people in the U.S. are usually discriminated against.
The report added that over half of the surveyed in the U.S. believe that the disabled, the elderly, and the native Americans are routinely discriminated against; 41 percent believe that black Americans are often discriminated against, while 70 percent of the blacks themselves believe that they felt discriminated against.
A director of the organization Human Rights U.S.A. said at a press conference that "the survey shows we have human rights problems right here in the United States." (1)
In October 1998, Amnesty International issued a 150-page human rights report on the U.S.. It cited a host of facts revealing that the U.S. has a "persistent and widespread pattern of human rights violations," while considering itself in the position of being in the "international leadership in the field of human rights."
Directed against the U.S., Amnesty International launched a campaign saying that human rights are not just the affairs of foreign countries, and urged the U.S. to "mind its own business." (2)
I. The Threat to Life, Freedom, and Personal Safety
The United States is a country where violent crimes are most serious in the world. On average, 65 people die and more than 6, 000 people become disabled by violent crimes every day. (3)
According to information released in November 1997 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice, in 1996, 12.4 cases of violent crimes were reported among every 1,000 people at and above the age of 12. (4)
Statistics indicate that between 1991 and June 1996, 9,859 people in New York City fell victims to murder attempts.
During the same period, one out of every 10 people in the U.S. working in the catering trade was murdered every week.
The juvenile crime rate has risen 600 percent since the 1960s, and murder cases involving juveniles under 17 years old tripled between 1984 and 1994.
According to a survey on juvenile violent criminal cases in the 26 most developed countries, released in February 1997 by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the juvenile crime rate in the U.S. is much higher than in the other developed countries.
The number of murder cases by juveniles in the U.S. almost accounted for three-fourths of all juvenile murder cases in those 26 most developed countries.
The U.S. also witnesses several thousand cases of criminal explosions every year. Between 1991 and 1995, 14,200 such cases of explosions were reported, claiming the lives of 456 people, injuring 3,839, and resulting in property losses of 1.l61 billion U.S. dollars. (5)
The United States has more firearms in the hands of individuals than any other country in the world. A report released by the U.S. Department of Justice on May 5,1997 indicates that the country has nearly 200 million private firearms, and two thirds of all U.S. households have guns.
Though it is legal to bear arms in the United States, private firearms now seriously endanger the lives and personal safety of Americans.
Statistics indicate that the U.S. has on average one million criminal shooting incidents and more than 20,000 shooting deaths a year, with a similar number of people committing suicide with guns.
An international survey released by the U.S. Administration departments in April 1998 indicates that the death toll from shootings in murders, suicides and accidents in the U.S. ranks number one among the world's 36 richest countries. (6)
Between 1985 and 1995, the U.S. juvenile crime rate tripled and the number of murders involving guns quadrupled.
With the widespread use of private firearms, gun-related incidents are now endangering security in the schools.
On March 24, 1998, two middle-school students in the state of Arkansas, one 11 and the other 13, took 10 rifles and pistols and killed four girl students and a female teacher and wounded another 11 students and teachers within 30 seconds in a schoolyard.
On May 21, a high school student aged at 15 in the state of Oregon shot his parents to death before rushing to his school and madly shooting at more than 400 fellow students, killing two and wounding 19 others.
Since the second half of 1997, U.S. school campuses have experienced over a dozen such incidents, shocking people all over the country.
Though the U.S. administration claims that the number of violent crimes has been reduced in recent years, an investigation indicates that 61 percent of Americans believe that the crime problem has become more and more serious, and 68 percent expected a higher crime rate in the year of 2000, according to an article in Time magazine's January 20, 1997 issue.
A recent poll conducted jointly by the Washington Post and the American Broadcasting Corporation shows that many of those surveyed expressed concern over crime and did not believe the latest government figures claiming that crime rates have declined.
The United States calls itself the "Free World". The proportion of prisoners in the United States, however, tops the world.
A report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice on August 17, 1997, says that the number of people who committed crimes and received sentences in the United States in 1996 hit a record 5.5 million.
According to a report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics on January 22, 1998, the number of people serving prison terms in the United States increased to more than 1.7 million by June 30, 1997 from 740,000 in 1985. This figure more than doubled in 12 years, with an average annual increase of 8.1 percent.
The German magazine Der Spiegel pointed out in an article on December 14, 1998 that the number of prisoners in the United States had reached 1.8 million people, the highest number in history.
Jail is also used to confine those suffering mental disorders, and some 200,000 mental patients are now imprisoned in the United States.
To meet the demand of the increasing number of prisoners, the country has had to build many more jails.
According to a 1997 report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, the United States built 220 new jails between 1990 and 1996 to accommodate a 43 percent increase in the prisoner population.
The number of beds in the jails in 18 states increased dramatically to 74,000 at present from 2,620 in 1986.
In spite of this, the increased number of jails lags far behind that of the prisoners.
Jails in the United States are in poor condition and prisoners are ill-treated there.
Many juveniles are placed in the same jails as adult prisoners, but children seeking protection are sometimes put in jails different from their parents. By the end of June 1998, some 3,500 juvenile offenders were jailed together with adult prisoners.
Violence is very prevalent in U.S. jails. Prisoners are maltreated not only by fellow prisoners, but also by prison guards. The United States ranks first in the use of high technology for the purpose of suppression. Stun guns and electro-shock stun belts are used against prisoners by the Bureau of Prisons and Marshals Service in more than 100 counties and at least 16 states.
Some 3,000 police offices use chemicals such as oleoresin capsicum spray (7), which has killed more than 60 people since 1996.
The United States started to use ?? higher jails?? in 1994 and conducted extremely harsh control measures against prisoners, who were denied almost all personal contacts with others and were put under a solitary confinement around the clock (8).
The Ellis No.1 Jail in Texas is a place for those who are sentenced to death and about to be executed. Prisoners are kept in separate rooms only three-square-meters large. Unbearable high temperatures in the jail can reach 40 degrees Celsius with humidity as high as 98 percent.
AIDS is rampant in U.S. jails. A report issued by the U.S. Federal Disease Control and Prevention Center indicates that 5.2 out of every 1,000 prisoners suffer from AIDS, a proportion six times greater than that of the rest of the population.
The United States also arbitrarily enforces the death penalty without justice, and jury verdicts are often affected by race and economic status.
The United States is one of only six remaining countries in the world that imposes the death penalty on juveniles, with 25 states violating the International Human Rights Convention and maintaining the death penalty for minors.
Four states prescribe 17 years old as the minimum age for the death penalty, while 21 other states define the age as 16 or have no lower limit.
The number of minors sentenced to death in the United States exceeds any other country. Since 1990, eight teenagers who committed crimes when they were under 18 years old have been executed, and 60 other juveniles are now awaiting execution.
In the past decade, the United States executed 30 people suffering mental disorders, including a murderer in Texas with the mental capacity of a seven-year old.
Moreover, the United States ignores its international obligations and denies the rights of arrested foreigners to obtain assistance from their embassies and consulates.
Some 60 foreign citizens have been sentenced to death in the United States, and most of them have not been informed of their rights under the Vienna Convention.
Police brutality is a serious problem in the United States. Human Rights Watch issued a 440-page investigative report on July 7, 1998, describing police behavior in 14 cities. The report cited brutality as one of the most serious, enduring and divisive human rights violations in the United States.
An investigative report released by the U.S. Department of Justice indicates that a total of 125 civilians died of maltreatment at the hands of police officers between 1980 and 1995, with only one police officers punished for related crimes.
Some 500,000 people in the U.S suffered from abusive police treatment in various forms, including physical blows, assaults, or threats with police dogs and guns in 1996.
According to a report in the June 1997 issue of U.S.-based " Insight" weekly, compensation paid to victims subjected to illegal behavior on the part of New York police officers increased to 24 million U.S. dollars monthly in 1994.
The monthly compensation figure of seven million U.S. dollars in 1988 surged three-fold in only six years.
In addition, a large number of cases involving police brutality have by no means been dealt with (9).
II. Dollar Democracy
The U.S. boasts of being the world's model of democracy in spite of low voter turn-out for elections. According to a report in the August 26, 1997 issue of Singapore's Unite Morning News, a leading daily of the country, an increasing number of voters are losing their enthusiasm for participating in elections to fulfill their basic political obligation as U.S. citizens.
The 1996 voter turn-out in the U.S. was only 48 percent, with the figure dropping below 50 percent for the first time since 1924. When considering both the presidential and mid-term elections, the participation of eligible voters in the U.S. was the lowest among all the developed countries.
This continuing decline in turn-out, the longest and worst in the history of the United States, has influenced people of all classes, ages, income levels and races. The turn-out of voters between 18-24 years of age dropped from 42 percent in 1972 to less than 30 percent in the last presidential election, and only 16 percent in the 1994 election.
The turn-out for voters with annual incomes of less than 15,000 U.S. dollars dropped 20 percent between 1990 and 1994, with the participation for mid-term elections falling to less than 10 percent.
The disparity between black and white U.S. voters was five percent in 1984, and the figure rose even further to more than 10 percent in 1994.
Controlling state power has always been the privilege of a small number of wealthy U.S. citizens. Based on the annual personal asset reports of members of the current Clinton cabinet, approximately half of the cabinet members have personal assets of over one million U.S. dollars, with some reporting family assets of over 80 million dollars.
According to a 1997 report in USA Today, the average personal assets of 25 judicial candidates suggested by U.S. President Bill Clinton was 1.8 million U.S. dollars, with the list including 15 millionaires.
Statistics compiled by a Washington-based organization show that 34.1 percent of judges in the United States are millionaires (10).
Even in the Congress, the proportion of millionaires to the total number of legislators is dozens of times higher than the level for U.S. society as a whole.
The United States always glorifies its freedom of press. However, freedom of press in the U.S. is nothing more than a myth. A research report compiled by the Sociology Department at Sonoma State University, California, showed that the U.S. press is controlled by boards of directors for major multinational companies which are either owners or shareholders of the country's most powerful TV stations and newspapers.
The 11 most powerful print and electronic media giants in the U. S. all have connections with 144 of the 1,000 largest enterprises. In addition, each major enterprise maintains close relations with heads of at least two of most powerful media giants. Eighty-one managers of the six largest members of the electronic media hold important positions with 104 major enterprises, with 76 general managers of the five largest print media giants which publish 160 dailies maintaining close connections with 66 of the 1,000 largest enterprises.
U.S. enterprises and press media giants are controlled by wealthy individuals. Journalists often maintain their jobs, salaries and promotion opportunities by catering to the values and viewpoints their general managers and the wealthy hold concerning international political and economic affairs.
In their most recent research report, researchers from Sonoma State University point out that the U.S. government wants American citizens to believe that members of the press media are " independent organizations". However, according to report, they are in fact "hostages" of the values and economic benefits of their owners and sponsors (11).
Another survey conducted by the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1998 revealed that most Americans harbor suspicions concerning the so-called free press system. Seventy-eight percent of the public pointed to the overly biased viewpoints of the press, while 80 percent indicated that newspapers dramatize some news items for commercial purposes, with over 75 percent citing suspicions that some news lacks credible sources (12).
III. Troubled With Poverty
The U.S., the world's wealthiest country, has recorded steady economic growth for eight years running. Nonetheless, the country is still troubled by poverty, hunger and homelessness due to the serious polarization of wealth distribution.
The gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen as the bulk of the country's wealth flows into the wallets of the rich.
The Washington Post carried an article on March 1, 1998, saying that the richest one percent of the U.S. population possesses more wealth than the total wealth of 90 percent of the total population.
The bottom 25 percent of U.S. families witnessed a nine percent decline in income between 1979 and 1995, with the richest 25 percent of families enjoying a 26 percent increase during the period, according to a U.S.A. Today report in 1997.
The income for the richest five percent of families was 5.7 times that for bottom 20 percent of families in 1995.
A report released by the U.S. Census Bureau in October 1997 noted that the richest American families had enjoyed a 46 percent increase in income since 1967, with the level for the poorest rising by only 14 percent. (13)
Official statistics released in 1997 show that the top 20 percent of U.S. families shared 49 percent of the country's total income in 1996, with the income level for the bottom 20 percent families falling by 1.8 percent.
Although the U.S. leads the world in terms of average family income, the income gap between the rich and poor has nonetheless reached the greatest point in the past two decades. Increased work hours have, in fact, been accompanied by falling incomes.
Various surveys show that the average work week for an American jumped from 40.6 hours in 1973 to 50.6 hours in 1995.
The current income level for the top 20 percent of the population is nine times more than the figure for the bottom 20 percent, up significantly from the 3.5 times figure in 1979. In addition, some 75 percent of American workers earn less today than in 1979. (14)
Speaking from the perspective of income distribution, an economist from the University of California in Berkeley said the U. S. faces greater problems than it did 30 years ago.
The increasingly serious polarization in terms of the distribution of wealth has led to a growing poverty rate.
Statistics show that 16 percent of the U.S. population lived below the poverty line in 1974, with the figure rising to 19 percent in 1997.
A quarter of those U.S. citizens who are over the age of 25 and have not received a high school education are living below the poverty line.
Poverty has greatly affected the health and education of the poor. A report released by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics in July 1998 said the possibility of illness the poor face is seven times that for the rich. In addition, the expected life-span of a 45-year-old with an annual income of 25,000 U.S. dollars is 6.6 years longer than that for an individual with an annual income of 10,000 dollars. (15)
Information released by the U.S. General Accounting Office shows that tuition levels for four-year public universities soared by 256 percent during 1980-1995 period, while the income level for ordinary families grew by only 93 percent. This in turn resulted in a further decline in the rate of poor people receiving higher education.
Hunger accompanies poverty. A large number of Americans continue to suffer from hunger in spite of the fact that the U.S. ranks as one of the world's leading grain producers with annual production of over 160 million tons.
The over 30 million U.S. citizens suffering from hunger in 1990 accounted for 12 percent of the nation's total population.
A report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on September 15, 1997, said financial factors forced 4.2 million American families to reduce spending on food between 1994 and 1995, with some 12 million families threatened with inadequate food support.
The leader of an anti-hunger organization said the hunger rate in the U.S. has surged by 50 percent over the past decade.
In addition, the number of homeless people is also on the rise. A recent survey conducted in 29 U.S. cities showed that six of every 10 cities have witnessed increasing numbers of homeless people. The survey results released at the American Conference of Mayors in 1997 showed that New York alone had 45,000 homeless people.
Statistics released by the country's association of low income lodgers show that workers at the lowest income levels have to work 60 hours a week in order to afford ordinary housing if 30 percent of total income goes for housing according to federal standards. Workers in New York and Hawaii, on the other hand, must work 119 and 144 hours respectively. (16)
Recent estimates indicated that at least a third of homeless people in the U.S. suffer from depressive psychosis and schizophrenia. (17)
The U.S. continues to reduce welfare expenditures in spite of ongoing economic growth.
The number of U.S. citizens receiving welfare benefits fell seven percent during the first six months after the country's new welfare bill went into effect in 1996.
The number of welfare recipients fell 22 percent from 14.4 million in March 1994 to 11.2 million in March 1997, according to a June 1997 report in U.S.A. Today. (18)
Almost all states reduced welfare benefits to families with minor children during the 1993-1996 period. Four states reduced benefits by more than 40 percent, with the Wisconsin reduction standing at 55 percent. An additional 27 states cut relief payments by 20-39 percent. (19)
The U.S. is the only industrialized large country which has not as yet adopted a compulsory medical insurance system. Reports from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that 41.7 million Americans lack medical insurance coverage.
IV. An Abyss of Racial Discrimination
Racial discrimination scandals have constantly been exposed in the United States in recent years. In 1997, The American news media revealed that the U.S. Department of Health authorized the Tuskegee Medical Research Center to use free medical treatment and food as enticements to recruit 600 black patients from Alabama for secret projects carried out in 1932-1972 to study the effects of syphilis on the human body.
Patients participating in the experiments over the 40-year period were never told the truth and never received appropriate medical treatment. The U.S. government eventually terminated the projects amidst a major scandal which surfaced in 1972. By that time, however, at least 28 people had died from syphilis, and more than 100 patients suffered from complications related to the disease. In addition, the wives of more than 40 patients and 19 of their infant children were infected with syphilis.
In spite of repeated class action filed against the U.S. government, the surviving victims were forced to wait until 1997, some 65 years after the beginning of the experiments, to receive a government apology. The U.S. government, in fact, admitted that the experiments were a shameful incident of "racial discrimination ".
Another historical scandal surfaced in the U.S. in March of 1998 when the State of Mississippi made public some 124,000 pages of secret documents from the archives of the state's former Sovereignty Committee. The documents revealed that the Committee, which operated from 1956-1977, spent some 250,000 U.S. dollars annually to maintain a racial segregation system and had resorted to intimidation, illegal imprisonment, bribing juries and various other illegal means to thwart the efforts of civil rights activists. The Committee, which counterparts in other states viewed as a prototype for safeguarding the racial discrimination system at any cost, was disbanded in 1977 and the State decided to seal the archives for 50 years. The general public finally won access to the archives following a 21-year marathon lawsuit (20).
Black people in the United States do not as yet enjoy equal rights in terms of participating in government affairs. A study report released in January 1997 by a Washington-based criminal verdict research center showed that 1.46 black men out of the total 10.4 million eligible black voters had been deprived of their right to vote after being convicted of felonies. This means that one of every seven eligible black voters loses the right to vote after receiving severe court penalties (21).
Statistics for 1998 provided by the Human Rights Watch indicated that U.S. adults stripped of the right to vote account for some two percent of the country's total, and nevertheless, the number of blacks deprived of the right to vote accounted for 13 percent of the total.
One-third of the blacks in Alabama and Florida were deprived of their right to vote in the 1996 elections. Human Rights Watch predicts that some 30 to 40 percent of the next generation of black people in the U.S. will permanently lose their right to vote if the current situation remains unchanged.
The Voting Rights Act enacted in 1965 authorized the Department of Justice to monitor elections in various southern states and required certain states to designate as many as possible constituencies where black voters account for a majority.
Nonetheless, the actual situation proves the contrary. Some states have resorted to redistricting the constituencies to restrict the black people's participation in government affairs.
For example, the local government in Jackson city of Mississippi, responded to the threat that blacks would soon become the city's majority population by redistricting constituencies to divide and diminish their power by moving them to districts with a majority of white people. The city has resorted to similar action on several occasions since 1960.
Black people account for 27 percent of total eligible voters in the State of Georgia. In 1997, however, the redistricting of 11 constituencies left black voters with the majority in only one constituency. The Supreme Court issued a June 19 ruling that the state acted in compliance with the U.S. Constitution.
Not a single black person has been elected to the school board in Bossier Parish, Louisiana, in spite of the fact that blacks account for 20 percent of the local population. In 1997, the local branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) suggested redistricting in order to establish two constituencies with black majorities. The local government's rejection of the suggestion won the backing of the Supreme Court which on May 12 issued a favorable verdict by a 7:2 vote (22).
Racial discrimination has had an impact on every aspect of social life in the United States. Results of the most recent census show a disparity in the economic status of blacks, with the average net property value of black families standing a only a tenth of the level for white families. An USA Today article published in April 1997 noted that the income level for Afro- American families stands at only 63 percent of the level for white families.
Moreover, an article in the September 3, 1997, issue of the Wall Street Journal said the income level for a black person is 19 percent lower than that for a white person with the same education level. It also noted that the proportion of poverty-stricken black families is 15 percentage points higher than for poor white families, with the total number of the former more doubling the figure for the latter.
While blacks account for 10.1 percent of the total U.S. work force very few of them have access to fields such as medicine, law, journalism and engineering. Even when assuming equal conditions, a black person has only a 33 percent chance of getting a job compared to his or her white counterpart (23).
Apart from rendering unfair rulings in cases involving equal rights for different races, the U.S. Supreme Court also neglected racial representation when hiring employees. According to a USA Today report in March 1998, the nine Supreme Court justices employ 394 clerks, with Hispanics accounting for one percent, black some two percent and Asian-Americans 4.5 percent of the total. Not a single native American Indian has been employed.
Statistics for 1998 revealed that in the U.S. states, where the death penalty is in force, among a total of 1,838 prosecutors having the right to recommend the death sentences, whites accounted for the bulk of prosecutors, with only 22 blacks and 22 Hispanics included in the total.
Blacks account for 12 percent of the total American population. However, blacks account for 54.2 percent of prison inmates and more than 40 percent of convicted criminals subject to capital punishment. A black person faces a nine times greater chance of receiving a death sentence than a white person convicted for the same crime. While blacks and whites have accounted for almost the same proportion of murder victims in the United States since 1997, some 82 percent of people executed were convicted of murdering white persons (24).
The January 30, 1997, issue of the Washington Post reported the number of blacks sentenced into prison in 1998 was 6.88 times the number for whites. However, the figure has since surged to 7.66 times.
A news dispatch released by the Agency France Presse (AFP) on August 26, 1997, said that one of every three blacks in the U.S. was either a criminal suspect or otherwise wanted by the police.
In the first four months of 1997, some 24,000 young black Washington residents between the ages of 18 and 25 were either serving jail terms or were wanted by local authorities, accounting for 49.8 percent of the total residents of the same age group, which is some 48,800 in the city, up some eight percentage points on the figure of 42 percent five years ago.
The education conditions of ethnic groups in the United States are in a state of crisis. According to the American Council on Education on May 19, 1997, the annual growth rate of university enrollment among ethnic groups in 1995 was 2.9 percent, compared to 7.1 in 1993 and 4.6 percent in 1994.
Among African Americans in 1995 the rate was only 1.7 percent more than in 1994. University enrollment among Caucasian high school graduates has gone from 32 percent in 1975 to 43 percent in 1995 while there has been almost no increase among ethnic groups. In 1995, university enrollment among black Americans aged 18 to 24 was just above 35 percent, three percent more than in 1975; and the rate among Hispanic American high school graduates was also 35 percent, the same as in 1975 (25).
According to a report in the February 3, 1998 edition of USA Today, a fifth of Hispanic Americans aged 16 to 24 dropped out of high school. If those of the same age group who did not go to school are counted, altogether 30 percent of the young Hispanic Americans do not get high school education. In the past 25 years, the drop-out rate among Hispanic Americans has ranged from 30 to 35 percent, or three times the average in the United States and 3. 5 times that of Caucasians. Meanwhile, the rate among non-Hispanic Americans of school age has decreased steadily.
According to the American Council on Education's 1995 report, fewer than 60 percent of Hispanic Americans aged 18 to 24 had finished high school education or had an equivalent education; the rate among black Americans was only 77 percent, but among Caucasians it was 82 percent.
In 1996, the state of California passed Proposition 209 and a court in Texas upheld a similar law that did away with the decades old preferential treatment for members of ethnic groups in enrolling in graduate schools. This led to a sharp decline in the number of students from ethnic groups at the country's two biggest and most famous public universities in 1997.
In the autumn of 1997, enrollments of black Americans and Hispanic Americans in the University of California and the University of Texas' law school were down 80 percent from the previous year, resulting in the smallest number of enrollments since 1970.
There is also an obvious racial barrier in the United States in health care, where the death rate among black American infants is more than twice that among Caucasians. The incidence of heart disease among black Americans is about three times that among Caucasians, and rate of deaths from cancer among black Americans and Hispanic Americans is higher than that among Caucasians.
Conditions are similar among American Indians and some Asian- Americans. Life expectancy of black American men and women is 5.4 years and 7.5 years less than that of Caucasians respectively.
In recent years, racial discrimination has grown in the United States along with incidents of racial violence. According to a report of the Southern Poverty Law Center on March 3, 1998, the number of organizations promoting racial discrimination increased 20 percent in 1997 from the previous year and there are now 474 such organizations in the country.
According to a report on June 8, 1997 of the National Church Arson Task Force, from January 1995 to May 1997, there were 162 black American churches burned down, with the majority of acts of arson committed by Caucasians.
There were 160 out of 199 suspected arsonists questioned in 150 arson cases who were Caucasians. According to a 1997 report from the National Asian-Pacific American Consortium, in 1996 there were 534 acts of violence committed against Asian-Americans, an increase of 17 percent over 1995, and 90 percent of those that were criminal cases were racially motivated.
The U.S. is a nation of immigrants, but in recent years, moves to restrict immigration have been on the rise. The Welfare Reform Law, which was approved by the U.S. Congress and the Immigration Law enacted on April 1, 1997, reduced and did away subsidies for immigrants and had many clauses discriminating against illegal immigrants and causing many difficulties for immigrants.
The United States began repatriating illegal immigrants in large numbers, in many cases infringing on the rights of immigrants. According to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 1996, Mexican consulates in the United States received more than 80,000 appeals for help from Mexican immigrants. In September 1997, a group of 56 Guatemalan immigrants were shackled and handcuffed by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for return to Guatemala.
A report on teenagers said that thousands of Mexicans enter the United States every year as illegal immigrants, and a considerable number of them are teenagers. From 1993 to 1996, some 62,000 Mexican children were taken by the U.S. authorities to the border between Mexico and the United States with no protection of basic rights.
V. Rights and Interests of Women and Children Not Guaranteed
There is still serious gender discrimination in the United States and the U.S. Constitution does not contain any provision for equality between men and women.
Females make up 50.94 percent of the country's population, but only 10.4 percent of the members of Congress are females, according to Reuters.
There is also gender discrimination in the workplace and females account for two-thirds of the country's jobless. The underemployment rate among women is almost two times the average in the U.S., and re-employment among them is much lower than for men.
Most females are employed in the service sector on a temporary or part-time basis. Females do not get equal pay for equal work, resulting in an widening gap between the incomes of men and women. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study showed that mid-level wages of full-time female employees were 75 percent those of males.
There are fewer women doing high-tech work than men, and their incomes are much lower, according to the January 23, 1997 issue of USA Today. Salaries of female mathematicians, physicists, and engineers with higher degrees are only 17 percent those of males, and in the computer industry they are only 14 percent those of males.
From 1990 to 1995, American women earned 71 or 72 cents on average for each dollar earned by men, according to the Christian Science Monitor's April 11, 1997 issue. An ordinary woman would earn 500,000 dollars less than a man in her lifetime.
An International Labor Organization study of 152 countries released on February 15, 1998 showed that the United States had the worst labor protection for women. American women have only 3 months of unpaid maternity leave, and are not allowed any time off after they go back to work, and about 40 percent of the female employees with children have no medical insurance.
Women's rights are not fully guaranteed in the U.S., which ranks first in the world in the number of cases of sexual violence. A government study released on November 17, 1998 said that 18 percent of American women have been the victims of an attempted rape or have been raped and more than half the women have been the victims of attack of some sort.
Each year, 6 million American women are injured by domestic violence, 2 million of them seriously. There is an incidence of domestic violence among every 14 couples, and 23 percent of the female victims have scars on their bodies and 100,000 have had to seek medical treatment.
As a result of the rapidly increasing number of violent crimes, 10 million American women carry a gun.
The number of people in American prisons doubled between 1980 and 1996 and in that time period, the number of female prisoners increased three-fold.
A Center for Disease Control conducted AIDS experiment on 12, 111 women from seven developing countries, and caused the infection of AIDS on more than 1,000 infants, said a report of New York Times, which was published on September 18, 1997. The experiment, which has aroused strong reaction both in the U.S. and international society, was regarded as the "most immoral medical experiment" since the end of the Second World War.
The plight of children in the U.S. is not entirely gratifying. The country has the highest proportion of children who die from shooting incidents among the 26 richest countries in the world, with more than 7,000 children killed by gunshot wounds each year.
A study by the Washington-based Children's Defence Fund released in March of 1997 said that one person below the age of 20 is killed by a gun every ninety minutes and children below the age of 15 die are 12 times more likely to be killed by a gun than in 25 other industrialized countries combined.
Child abuse is a serious problem in the U.S. Every ten seconds a child is either abused or suffering from neglect, and each year, about 130,000 children suffer from sexual abuse, 2,000 children die from abuse, and 250,000 are physically attacked.
A government survey report released on January 11 showed that the number of children suffering from abuse or neglect increased from 1.4 million in 1986 to more than 3 million in 1997. Each year, 1,046 children die from maltreatment and lack of proper care and the younger the child is the more susceptible to physical abuse it is. About 82 percent of the children killed are below the age of five, and nearly 44 percent are one or younger (28).
Many children have to do heavy and dangerous work for low wages. In 1996, there were 290,000 illegally employed children in the U.S. Of 165 children found to be illegally employed in 16 states, the youngest was only four.
Children also suffer from poverty in the U.S.. Statistics show that 500,000 children in the U.S. do not have enough food and 15 million still live in poverty.
A study by a Survey Center of Poor Children of Columbia University published in December of 1997 found that the number of children below the age of six living in poverty increased from the 3.5 million in 1979 to 6.1 million in 1995. The poverty rate for children has soared from 18 percent to 25 percent, which means one out of every four of them is living in poverty.
In 1996, there were 10.6 million children without medical insurance, according to the US Bureau of Census.
VI. Ignoring International Conventions on Human Rights
The United States often criticizes other countries for applying lower human rights protection standards than international standards, but it does not follow international standards itself. The United States does not recognize the priority application right of the international law, and the Federal Government refuses to implement international conventions nationwide, but allows its states to go their own way.
The United States is one of only two countries not to join the Convention on the Rights of the Child (the other being Somalia) and is one of the few not to join the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is the first major international human rights convention the U.S. joined, but it was only approved in 1988, whereas the U.S. signed it in 1948. Another convention, the International Convention on Eliminating All Forms of Racial Discrimination, was approved in 1994, after being signed by the U.S. in 1966. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was approved in 1992, and the U.S. signed it in 1977. Approval of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is still pending and it was signed in 1977.
Although it is one of the founding members of the Organization of American States, the United States refuses to either approve the American Convention on Human Rights, or sign other human rights conventions the organization has approved.
When it joined the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the U.S. said that it would only implement the two within the limits of its own laws, which makes joining meaningless.
The United States has many reservations about the former, some of them considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in conflict with international law and the principles of the covenant.
The U.S. also tried to put obstacles to the path of drafting the optional protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the United Nations, establishing the International Criminal Court and the land mine issue Ottawa process and other issues.
Although the U.S. approved the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1994, it has not yet handed in a report on implementing it nor the first and second reports on implementing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which should be handed in by November 1995 and November 1997.
The U.S. gave the cold shoulder to the visit request by UN Human Rights Committee special rapporteurs and did not pay due attention to suggestions made during and after their visit.
The United States does not have a good human rights record itself but likes to play the role of the "world's human rights policeman" and makes unwarranted accusations about other countries, resulting in strenuous objections and resistance by other countries.
The American government needs to keep its eyes on its own human rights situation, mind its own business, and avoid interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
SEE THE LATEST REPORT:
(1) Reuters, December 10, 1997.
(2) "United States of America: Rights for All",
Amnesty International Publications, New York, October 1998.
(3) AFP, July 17, 1997.
(4) U.S. "U.S.A. Today", November 7, 1997.
(5) "U.S.A. Today", July 11, 1997.
(6) AP, April 16, 1998.
(7) See Note 2.
(8) Hong Kong-based "South China Morning Post"
(9) U.S. "Insight weekly, June 16, 1997.
(10) "U.S.A. Today", May, 1997.
(11) Mexico's "Excelsior", November 18, 1998.
(12) Central New Service, Washington, December 15, 1998.
(13) Reuters, September 29, 1997.
(14) France-based "Les Echos", October 9, 1997
and "Nouvel Observateur" weekly, May 13, 1997
(15) La Agencia EFE, Washington, July 30, 1998.
(16) "U.S.A. Today", January 26, 1998.
(17) Germany-based "Der Spiegel" weekly, December 14, 1998.
(18) "U.S.A. Today", June 9, 1997.
(19) U.S. "International Herald Tribune", May 8, 1997.
(20) U.S. "New York Times", March 18, 1998.
(21) U.S. "Washington Post", January 30, 1997
(22) "U.S.A. Today", June 20, 1997; May 13, 1997.
(23) "U.S. News and World Report", March 24, 1997.
(24) See Note 2.
(25) U.S. "New York Times", May 19, 1997 and June 28, 1997.
(26) La Agencia EFE, Mexico, May 24, 1997.
(27) AP, November 18, 1998.
(28) Reuters March 20, 1997.
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