More than 100 stakeholders, including Dui Hua, submitted comments in preparation for the Universal Periodic Review of the United States, which will take place in November. The three areas raised in Dui Hua’s submission and the foundation’s recommendations are summarized below. (Read Dui Hua’s full UPR submission here.)
International human rights law does not recognize the right to parole. However, jurisdictions that adopt parole must do so in accordance with international human rights law. While many states have trended away from discretionary parole since the 1970s, the discretionary parole process has also become more rigid. In California, less than one percent of inmates whose cases are heard are recommended for parole by the parole board.
Article 10 Section 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “the penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation.” US states with indeterminate parole systems should establish independent bipartisan parole boards with judiciary oversight. As put forth in the February 16, 2009, report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Dui Hua calls for the creation of a special procedure of the Human Rights Council whose mandate would address parole-related human rights concerns worldwide.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement Detention
In 2008, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), detained 379,000 foreign nationals. ICE detainees lack the right to counsel. This violates Article 13 of the ICCPR, which states that an alien “be allowed to submit the reasons against his expulsion and to have his case reviewed by, and be represented for the purpose before, the competent authority or a person or persons especially designated by the competent authority.”
The structure and management of ICE detention in the United States leads to widespread violations of Article 9 of the ICCPR prohibition against arbitrary detention. Dui Hua is particularly concerned with the process of mandatory detention, whereby a non-citizen who has committed a felony or crime involving a broad range of other characteristics, such as “moral turpitude,” may be held indefinitely in an ICE facility pending removal proceedings.
Dui Hua recommends that ICE detention decisions should be the subject of an independent judicial body, and detainees should receive guaranteed access to representation before that body. The policy of automatic mandatory detention should be replaced with a system that specifies that detention pending deportation proceedings be shown as a necessary and proportionate measure. Conditions of confinement should be non-punitive, and ICE should cease the practice of contracting to house immigration detainees in criminal justice facilities. ICE should institute a national system of detainee tracking that is electronic, up-to-date, and easily accessible to attorneys and family members.
Thirty-five US states and the US federal government retain the death penalty. Dui Hua has deep concerns about the well-documented racial disparities in the application of the death penalty, as well as the implications of the 73 post-conviction DNA exonerations that have taken place in the United States between 2006 and 2009. Given the deep-seated and long-running questions of the application of this penalty, Dui Hua joins the UN General Assembly in its 2007 resolution calling on the United States to join in a worldwide death penalty moratorium.