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U.S. Statement on the Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism, and on Arbitrary Detentions
March 6, 2013

Clustered Interactive Dialogue on the Reports of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism, and the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America
UN Human Rights Council – 22nd Session
March 5, 2013


  • Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms while Countering Terrorism

The United States takes note of the Special Rapporteur’s report and recommendations.  We continue to consider the complete report and its substantial detail.

  • Arbitrary Detentions

The United States thanks the Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions for your report.  We commend your efforts in conducting country visits and highlighting cases within your mandate and appreciate the success you have had when focusing on specific cases.

The United States also notes with interest the Working Group’s new online database of communications, which we hope will continue to be kept up-to-date and be of much utility to states and others who follow the Working Group’s work.

Regarding the Working Group’s “Deliberation No. 9,” the United States reserves on such questions as to whether and under what circumstances prolonged arbitrary detention may violate customary international law or whether there is a preemptory or jus cogens norm against it.  However, we agree with the emphasis of the Working Group’s report on the need for all States to enforce protections against arbitrary or unlawful detention and to provide means for a detained person to challenge the lawfulness of detention in accordance with applicable international obligations, paying due respect to the principle of lex specialis in situations of armed conflict, and the limits on the Working Group’s mandate in that regard.

However, we see no need to rewrite or reinterpret treaty text, such as Articles 4 and 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in order to underscore the importance of continued protection from unlawful or arbitrary detention.  We would also emphasize the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in providing a yardstick by which the conduct of all States may be judged with respect to arbitrary arrest or detention, particularly those States that are not party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or other relevant international or regional conventions.  Finally, as stated in our intervention on the Working Group’s last report, the United States encourages the Working Group to concentrate on specific cases and circumstances of arbitrary detention rather than on attempting to summarize or restate the related legal obligations of States.

As for the Working Group’s ongoing efforts to prepare draft basic principles and guidelines on remedies and procedures on the right of anyone deprived of his or her liberty, the United States notes that Resolution 20/16 requested that the Working Group seek the views of States and others, and inquires as to how the Working Group intends to proceed in seeking such views and what its timeframe for collecting such responses might be.

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