Friday, September 15, 2006

U.N. Human Rights Committee Denounces U.S. Indigenous Policies

By William Brennan Thomas
 World Indigenous News ---   A leading United Nations human rights body has issued a report blasting the United States for its systematic abrogation of its treaties with Native Americans, stealing of reservation land, and the loss of billions of dollars of Native American money, among other things.

It demanded that the United States grant American Indians and Native Hawaiians the same basic protections under U.S. law that it grants to nonindigenous Americans.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a panel of 18 independent experts set up to monitor implementation of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The ICCPR is one of two international covenants on human rights that form the cornerstone of an extensive series of internationally binding treaties.

The most recent review relied upon submissions by nongovernment organizations, the testimony of a U.S. delegation, and a U.S. government report that was submitted seven years after it was officially due.

Of primary concern to the committee was the ability of the U.S. Congress to extinguish recognized tribal property rights without due process and fair compensation.

This capacity stems from the 1903 Supreme Court decision Lone Wolf vs. Hitchcock, which held that Congress has absolute authority to unilaterally negate treaties it has signed with Indian nations.

The Human Rights Committee found that the denial of Native Americans' right to effectively control their lands and resources was a violation of Article 1 of the ICCPR, which recognizes "the rights of all peoples to self-determination and by virtue of that right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development."

Native rights are also protected under Article 27 of the covenant, which protects the rights of minorities to enjoy their own culture, profess and practice their own religion, and to use their own language.

The rights guaranteed in these two articles often require control and use of traditional land, a right the U.S. government has denied to American Indians for over a century.

According to Tim Coulter, executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center, who made a presentation to the committee, "The relationship between the U.S. government and Indians is an involuntary permanent trusteeship with no accountability.

The committee also cited the Department of the Interior's mismanagement of so-called Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts, which hold accumulated income from land that was "given" to individual Indians when reservations were broken up in the late 1880s.

The abuse of IIM accounts has resulted in the loss of billions of dollars that belonged to native peoples.

The U.S. delegation, predictably, was dismissive of the committee's complaints.

Summarized by Copernic Summarizer


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.