Torture at Guantanamo and the 3 Reasons America Fails at Human Rights


The United States expends a lot of energy trying to fix other governments and civil societies. Yet, when closely examined, the U.S. is nowhere near being perfectly just or unbiased in its own practices and policies. Take a look at a few compelling facts:

1. The U.S. is 1 of 20 countries that carried capital punishment in the past year – down from 23 countries 2010 and 31 a decade ago. The U.S. is the only member of the G8 to have carried out the death penalty in 2011, and the only country in North America. Other countries that employed capital punishment in 2011 were: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, China, UAE, and Belarus.

2. Torture has taken place within and outside U.S. borders. Incidents have been reported of American personnel inflicting torture on prisoners, particularly in Guantanamo Bay. Torture has been often used by United States personnel abroad in interrogation sessions. The U.S. government has signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, an international law requiring states to commit to preventing torture.

3. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world: 715 out of 100,000 people in the U.S. are incarcerated, with half serving sentences for non-violent crimes. This high rate of imprisonment and longer sentences cause many negative impacts throughout the country: prison overcrowding, leading to poor rehabilitation and correction; more money appropriated for prisons rather than social services, and; family breakdown, amongst other problems.

While the United States may have many domestic laws protecting against human rights violations and it comply with many international human rights laws, it would be prudent to reevaluate some of its own practices before condemning those of other governments.