October 20, 2023
Contact: Paola Luisi, pluisi@haitianbridge.org

Geneva, Switzerland – The Haitian Bridge Alliance led a delegation for a week of advocacy at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. For the first time in nine years, the United Nations Human Rights Committee reviewed the U.S. compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). More than 140 representatives from dozens of civil society organizations were in Geneva to hold the U.S. accountable during the ICCPR review. Haitian Bridge Alliance (HBA) and partner civil society organizations submitted a report to the committee last month ahead of the review, delivered testimony to the Committee over the last week, and advocated for the Committee to question the U.S. government on its migration policies.

During the official review on Oct. 17 and 18 in Geneva, Switzerland, U.N. committee members questioned U.S. federal, state, and local government officials on “the punitive nature of U.S. migration measures”; the treatment of refugee and asylum seekers, including the effects of mandating that the CBP One app be the exclusive way to access asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border; family separations; child deaths in immigrant detention facilities, including the preventable death of 8-year old Anadith Danay Reyes Alvarez, and reparations to victim’s families; the inhumane conditions and mistreatment in immigrant detention, including the use of solitary confinement; the use of force by Customs and Border Patrol; asylum screening processes during maritime interdictions; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s data collection and surveillance practices.

In responding to the Committee’s questions, the U.S. government delegation’s Royce Murray, Senior Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security, said the U.S. is “facing hemispheric migration challenges with outdated immigration laws that only Congress can fix.”

The HBA coalition report focused on how the U.S.’s prevention through deterrence migration policies and practices violate the treaty, are based in historic and structural racism, and trample upon the human rights of people in transnational migration. The report detailed how U.S. prevention through deterrence migration strategies–including border militarization, the mass immigrant detention network, maritime interdictions, pushbacks at the U.S.-Mexico border, ongoing deportations and forced returns to places where people are likely to suffer harm, and the externalization of U.S. border control throughout the Americas– uniquely and disparately impact Haitian nationals, Cameroonian nationals, and other people of African descent.

The United States is obligated to abide by the ICCPR, which is one of only three international human rights treaties the country has ratified. Recordings of the review are publicly accessible via the UN Web TV site (Oct. 17Oct. 18). The Human Rights Committee is expected to issue its Concluding Observations on U.S. compliance with the ICCPR on November 3 and include its recommendations for the treatment of foreign nationals, including refugees and asylum seekers.

Executive Director of Haitian Bridge Alliance, Guerline Jozef, issues the following statement:
“The Haitian Bridge Alliance is committed to fostering positive change and facilitating a brighter future for all migrants. We are grateful for the opportunity to have our voices heard at the United Nations Human Rights Committee review and look forward to continued collaboration with all stakeholders in the pursuit of a more just and humane world.”

Erik Crew, Staff Attorney at Haitian Bridge Alliance, who was present at the hearings in Geneva, issued the following statements:
It’s gratifying to see that the Committee’s questions to the U.S. government’s delegation were guided by input from HBA and other participating civil society organizations, but it shouldn’t take us flying half-way across the world for the U.S. government to have to take human rights seriously, or to answer for 8-year old Anadith’s preventable death in immigration detention and be called to provide reparations. Human rights should be a key consideration in every action our government takes, including in its migration and border policies.”

“This week, the Committee’s questioning of the U.S., and the U.S. response provided more evidence that the U.S. prevention through deterrence migration strategies are outside the rules-based international order that the government continues to say it supports,” said Mr. Crew after the hearings.