Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report of the United States of America *
The Committee considered the fourth periodic report of the United States of America (CCPR/C/USA/4 and Corr.1) at its 3044th, 3045th and 3046th meetings (CCPR/C/SR.3044, 3045 and 3046), held on 13 and 14 March 2014. At its 3061st meeting (CCPR/C/SR.3061), held on 26 March 2014, it adopted the following concluding observations.
The Committee welcomes the submission of the fourth periodic report of the United States of America and the information presented therein. It expresses appreciation for the opportunity to renew its constructive dialogue with the State party’s high-level delegation, which included representatives of state and local governments, on the measures taken by the State party during the reporting period to implement the provisions of the Covenant. The Committee is grateful to the State party for its written replies (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4/Add.1) to the list of issues (CCPR/C/USA/Q/4), which were supplemented by the oral responses provided by the delegation during the dialogue, and for the additional information that was provided in writing.
The Committee notes with appreciation the many efforts undertaken by the State party and the progress made in protecting civil and political rights. The Committee welcomes in particular the following legislative and institutional steps taken by the State party:
(a)Full implementation of article 6, paragraph 5, of the Covenant in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s judgment in Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), despite the State party’s reservation to the contrary;
(b)Recognition by the Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008) of the extraterritorial application of constitutional habeas corpus rights to aliens detained at Guantánamo Bay;
(c)Presidential Executive Orders 13491 – Ensuring Lawful Interrogations, 13492 – Review and Disposition of Individuals Detained at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base and Closure of Detention Facilities and 13493 – Review of Detention Policy Options, issued on 22 January 2009;
(d)Support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, announced by President Obama on 16 December 2010;
(e)Presidential Executive Order 13567 establishing a periodic review of detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility who have not been charged, convicted or designated for transfer, issued on 7 March 2011.
C.Principal matters of concern and recommendations
Applicability of the Covenant at national level
The Committee regrets that the State party continues to maintain the position that the Covenant does not apply with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction, but outside its territory, despite the interpretation to the contrary of article 2, paragraph 1, supported by the Committee’s established jurisprudence, the jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice and State practice. The Committee further notes that the State party has only limited avenues to ensure that state and local governments respect and implement the Covenant, and that its provisions have been declared to be non-self-executing at the time of ratification. Taken together, these elements considerably limit the legal reach and practical relevance of the Covenant (art. 2).
The State party should:
(a) Interpret the Covenant in good faith, in accordance with the ordinary meaning to be given to its terms in their context, including subsequent practice, and in the light of the object and purpose of the Covenant, and review its legal position so as to acknowledge the extraterritorial application of the Covenant under certain circumstances, as outlined , inter alia , in the Committee’s general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant;
(b) Engage with stakeholders at all levels to identify ways to give greater effect to the Covenant at federal, state and local levels, taking into account that the obligations under the Covenant are binding on the State party as a whole, and that all branches of government and other public or governmental authorities at every level are in a position to engage the responsibility of the State party ( g eneral c omment. No. 31, para. 4);
(c) Taking into account its declaration that provisions of the Covenant are non-self-executing, ensure that effective remedies are available for violations of the Covenant, including those that do not, at the same time, constitute violations of the domestic law of the United States of America , and undertake a review of such areas with a view to proposing to Congress implementing legislation to fill any legislative gaps. The State party should also consider acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Covenant , providing for an individual communication procedure.
(d) Strengthen and expand existing mechanisms mandated to monitor the implementation of human rights at federal, state, local and tribal levels, provide them with adequate human and financial resources or consider establishing an independent national human rights institution, in accordance with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights ( the Paris Principles) (General Assembly resolution 48/134 , annex ).
(e) R econsider its position regarding its reservations and declarations to the Covenant with a view to withdrawing them.
Accountability for past human rights violations
The Committee is concerned at the limited number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions of members of the Armed Forces and other agents of the United States Government, including private contractors, for unlawful killings during its international operations, and the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in United States custody, including outside its territory, as part of the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques”. While welcoming Presidential Executive Order 13491 of 22 January 2009 terminating the programme of secret detention and interrogation operated by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Committee notes with concern that all reported investigations into enforced disappearances, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment committed in the context of the CIA secret rendition, interrogation and detention programmes were closed in 2012, resulting in only a meagre number of criminal charges being brought against low-level operatives. The Committee is concerned that many details of the CIA programmes remain secret, thereby creating barriers to accountability and redress for victims (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 14).
The State party should ensure that all cases of unlawful killing, torture or other ill-treatment, unlawful detention or enforced disappearance are effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including , in particular, persons in positions of command, are prosecuted and sanctioned, and that victims are provided with effective remedies. The responsibility of those who provided legal pretexts for manifestly illegal behavior should also be established. The State party should also consider the full incorporation of the doctrine of “ command responsibility ” in its criminal law and declassify and make public the report of the Senate Special Committee on Intelligence into the CIA secret detention programme .
Racial disparities in the criminal justice system
While appreciating the steps taken by the State party to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including the enactment in August 2010 of the Fair Sentencing Act and plans to work on reforming mandatory minimum sentencing statutes, the Committee continues to be concerned about racial disparities at different stages in the criminal justice system, as well as sentencing disparities and the overrepresentation of individuals belonging to racial and ethnic minorities in prisons and jails (arts. 2, 9, 14 and 26).
The State party should continue and step up its efforts to robustly address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, including by amending regulations and policies leading to racially disparate impact at the federal, state and local levels. The State party should ensure the retroactive application of the Fair Sentencing Act and reform mandatory minimum sentencing statutes.
While welcoming plans to reform the “stop and frisk” programme in New York City, the Committee remains concerned about the practice of racial profiling and surveillance by law enforcement officials targeting certain ethnic minorities and the surveillance of Muslims, undertaken by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the New York Police Department (NYPD), in the absence of any suspicion of wrongdoing (arts. 2, 9, 12, 17 and 26).
The State party should continue and step up measures to effectively combat and eliminate racial profiling by federal, state and local law enforcement officials, inter alia , by:
(a) P ursuing the review of its 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies and expanding protection against profiling on the basis of religion, religious appearance or national origin;
(b) C ontinuing to train state and local law enforcement personnel on cultural awareness and the inadmissibility of racial profiling; and
(c) A bolishing all “stop and frisk” practices.
While welcoming the overall decline in the number of executions and the increasing number of states that have abolished the death penalty, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing use of the death penalty and, in particular, racial disparities in its imposition that disproportionately affects African Americans, exacerbated by the rule that discrimination has to be proven on a case-by-case basis. The Committee is further concerned by the high number of persons wrongly sentenced to death, despite existing safeguards, and by the fact that 16 retentionist states do not provide for compensation for persons who are wrongfully convicted, while other states provide for insufficient compensation. Finally, the Committee notes with concern reports about the administration, by some states, of untested lethal drugs to execute prisoners and the withholding of information about such drugs (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14 and 26).
The State party should :
(a) T ake measures to effectively ensure that the death penalty is not imposed as a result of racial bias;
(b) S trengthen safeguards against wrongful sentencing to death and subsequent wrongful execution by ensuring , inter alia , effective legal representation for defendants in death penalty cases, including at the post-conviction stage;
(c) E nsure that retentionist states provide adequate compensation for persons who are wrongfully convicted ;
(d) E nsure that lethal drugs used for executions originate from legal, regulated sources, and are approved by the U nited S tates Food and Drug Administration and that information on the origin and composition of such drugs is made available to individuals scheduled for execution; and
(e) C onsider establishing a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level and engage with retentionist states with a view to achieving a nationwide moratorium .
The Committee also encourages the State party to consider acceding to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, on the occasion of the 25 th anniversary of the Protocol .
Targeted killings using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones)
The Committee is concerned about the State party’s practice of targeted killings in extraterritorial counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as “drones”, the lack of transparency regarding the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal justification for specific attacks, and the lack of accountability for the loss of life resulting from such attacks. The Committee notes the State party’s position that drone strikes are conducted in the course of its armed conflict with Al-Qaida, the Taliban and associated forces in accordance with its inherent right of national self-defence, and that they are governed by international humanitarian law as well as by the Presidential Policy Guidance that sets out standards for the use of lethal force outside areas of active hostilities. Nevertheless, the Committee remains concerned about the State party’s very broad approach to the definition and geographical scope of “armed conflict”, including the end of hostilities, the unclear interpretation of what constitutes an “imminent threat”, who is a combatant or a civilian taking direct part in hostilities, the unclear position on the nexus that should exist between any particular use of lethal force and any specific theatre of hostilities, as well as the precautionary measures taken to avoid civilian casualties in practice (arts. 2, 6 and 14).
The State party should revisit its position regarding legal justifications for the use of deadly force through drone attacks. It should:
(a) E nsure that any use of armed drones complies fully with its obligations under article 6 of the Covenant , including , in particular , with respect to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality in the context of an armed conflict;
(b) S ubject to operational security, disclose the criteria for drone strikes, including the legal basis for specific attacks, the process of target identification and the circumstances in which drones are used;
(c) P rovide for independent supervision and oversight o f the specific implementation of regulations governing the use of drone strikes;
(d) I n armed conflict situations, take all feasible measures to ensure the protection of civilians in specific drone attacks and to track and assess civilian casualties, as well as all necessary precautionary measures in order to avoid such casualties;
(e) C onduct independent, impartial, prompt and effective investigations of allegations of violations of the right to life and bring to justice those responsible;
(f) P rovide victims or their families with an effective remedy where there has been a violation, including adequate compensation, and establish accountability mechanisms for victims of allegedly unlawful drone attacks who are not compensated by their home governments.
While acknowledging the measures taken to reduce gun violence, the Committee remains concerned about the continuing high numbers of gun-related deaths and injuries and the disparate impact of gun violence on minorities, women and children. While commending the investigation by the United States Commission on Civil Rights of the discriminatory effect of the “Stand Your Ground” laws, the Committee is concerned about the proliferation of such laws which are used to circumvent the limits of legitimate self-defence in violation of the State party’s duty to protect life (arts. 2, 6 and 26).
The State Party should take all necessary measures to abide by its obligation to effectively protect the right to life. In particular, it should:
(a) C ontinue its efforts to effectively curb gun violence, including through the continued pursuit of legislation requiring background checks for all private firearm transfers , in order to prevent possession of arms by persons recognized as prohibited individuals under federal law , and ensure strict enforcement of the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban of 1996 (the Lautenberg Amendment); and
(b) R eview the Stand Your Ground l aws to remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to the principles of necessity and proportionality when using deadly force in self- defen c e .
Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials
The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers, including the deadly use of tasers, which has a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the United States-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7 and 26).
The State Part y should :
(a) S tep up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Offic ials ;
(b) E nsure that the new C B P directive on the use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and
(c) I mprove reporting of violations involving the excessive use of force and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated ; that alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions ; that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available ; and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation.
Legislation prohibiting torture
While noting that acts of torture may be prosecuted in a variety of ways at both the federal and state levels, the Committee is concerned about the lack of comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of torture, including mental torture, committed within the territory of the State party. The Committee is also concerned about the inability of torture victims to claim compensation from the State party and its officials due to the application of broad doctrines of legal privilege and immunity(arts. 2 and 7).
The State party should enact legislation to explicitly prohibit torture, including mental torture, wherever committed , and ensure that the law provides for penalties commensurate with the gravity of such acts, whether committed by public officials or other persons acting on behalf of the State, or by private persons. The State party should ensure the availability of compensation to victims of torture.
While noting the measures taken to ensure compliance with the principle of non-refoulement in cases of extradition, expulsion, return and transfer of individuals to other countries, the Committee is concerned about the State party’s reliance on diplomatic assurances that do not provide sufficient safeguards. It is also concerned at the State party’s position that the principle of non-refoulement is not covered by the Covenant, despite the Committee’s established jurisprudence and subsequent State practice (arts. 6 and 7).
The State party should strictly apply the absolute prohibition against refoulement under articles 6 and 7 of the Covenant ; continue exercising the utmost care in evaluating diplomatic assurances, and refrain from relying on such assurances where it is not in a position to effectively monitor the treatment of such persons after their extradition, expulsion, transfer or return to other countries ; and take appropriate remedial action when assurances are not fulfilled.
Trafficking and forced labour
While acknowledging the measures taken by the State party to address the issue of trafficking in persons and forced labour, the Committee remains concerned about cases of trafficking of persons, including children, for purposes of labour and sexual exploitation, and criminalization of victims on prostitution-related charges. It is concerned about the insufficient identification and investigation of cases of trafficking for labour purposes and notes with concern that certain categories of workers, such as farm workers and domestic workers, are explicitly excluded from protection under labour laws, thus rendering those categories of workers more vulnerable to trafficking. The Committee is also concerned that workers entering the United States of America under the H-2B work visa programme are also at a high risk of becoming victims of trafficking and/or forced labour (arts. 2, 8, 9, 14, 24 and 26).
The State party should continue its efforts to combat trafficking in persons, inter alia , by strengthening its preventive measures, increasing victim identification and systematically and vigorously investigating allegations of trafficking in persons, prosecuting and punishing those responsible and providing effective remedies to victims, including protection, rehabilitation and compensation. The State party should take all appropriate measures to prevent the criminalization of victims of sex trafficking, including child victims, insofar as they have been compelled to engage in unlawful activities. The State party should review its laws and regulations to ensure full protection against forced labour for all categories of workers and ensure effective oversight of labour conditions in any temporary visa program me . It should also reinforce its training activities and provide training to law enforcement and border and immigration officials, as well as to other relevant agencies such as labour law enforcement agencies and child welfare agencies.
The Committee is concerned that under certain circumstances mandatory detention of immigrants for prolonged periods of time without regard to the individual case may raise issues under article 9 of the Covenant. It is also concerned about the mandatory nature of the deportation of foreigners, without regard to elements such as the seriousness of crimes and misdemeanors committed, the length of lawful stay in the United States, health status, family ties and the fate of spouses and children staying behind, or the humanitarian situation in the country of destination. Finally, the Committee expresses concern about the exclusion of millions of undocumented immigrants and their children from coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the limited coverage of undocumented immigrants and immigrants residing lawfully in the United States for less than five years by Medicare and Children Health Insurance, all resulting in difficulties for immigrants in accessing adequate health care (arts. 7, 9, 13, 17, 24 and 26).
The Committee recommends that the State party review its policies of mandatory detention and deportation of certain categories of immigrants in order to allow for individualized decisions ; take measures to ensur e that affected persons have access to legal representation ; and identify ways to facilitate access to adequate health care, including reproductive health - care services , by undocumented immigrants and immigrants and their families who have been residing lawfully in the U nited S tates for less than five years .
The Committee is concerned that domestic violence continues to be prevalent in the State party, and that ethnic minorities, immigrants, American Indian and Alaska Native women are at particular risk. The Committee is also concerned that victims face obstacles to obtain remedies, and that law enforcement authorities are not legally required to act with due diligence to protect victims of domestic violence and often inadequately respond to such cases (arts. 3, 7, 9 and 26).
The State party should, through the full and effective implementation of the Violence against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, strengthen measures to prevent and combat domestic violence and ensure that law enforcement personnel appropriately respond to acts of domestic violence. The State party should ensure that cases of domestic violence are effectively investigated and that perpetrators are prosecuted and sanctioned. The State party should ensure remedies for all victims of domestic violence and take steps to improve the provision of emergency shelter, housing, child care, rehabilitative services and legal representation for women victims of domestic violence. The State party should also take measures to assist tribal authorities in their efforts to address domestic violence against Native American women.
The Committee is concerned about corporal punishment of children in schools, penal institutions, the home and all forms of childcare at federal, state and local levels. It is also concerned about the increasing criminalization of students to deal with disciplinary issues in schools (arts. 7, 10 and 24).
The State party should take practical steps, including through legislative measures , where appropriate, to put an end to corporal punishment in all settings . It should encourage non-violent forms of discipline as alternatives to corporal punishment and should conduct public information campaigns to raise awareness about its harmful effects. The State party should also promote the use of alternatives to the application of criminal law to address disciplinary issues in schools.
Non-consensual psychiatric treatment
The Committee is concerned about the widespread use of non-consensual psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services (arts. 7 and 17).
The State party should ensure that non-consensual use of psychiatric medication, electroshock and other restrictive and coercive practices in mental health services is generally prohibited. Non-consensual psychiatric treatment may only be applied, if at all, in exceptional cases as a measure of last resort where absolutely necessary for the benefit of the person concerned , provided that he or she is unable to give consent , and for the shortest possible time without any long-term impact and under independent review . The State party should promote psychiatric care aimed at preserving the dignity of patients, both adults and minors.
Criminalization of homelessness
While appreciating the steps taken by federal and some state and local authorities to address homelessness, the Committee is concerned about reports of criminalization of people living on the street for everyday activities such as eating, sleeping, sitting in particular areas, etc. The Committee notes that such criminalization raises concerns of discrimination and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment (arts. 2, 7, 9, 17and 26).
The State party should engage with state and local authorities to:
(a) A bolish the laws and policies criminaliz ing homelessness at state and local levels;
(b) E nsure close cooperation among all relevant stakeholders , including social, health, law enforcement and justice professionals at all levels , to intensify efforts to find solutions for the homeless , in accordance with human rights standards; and
(c) O ffer incentives for decriminalization and the implementation of such solutions , including by providing continued financial support to local authorities that implement alternatives to criminalization , and withdrawing funding fr om local authoriti es that criminaliz e the homeless.
Conditions of detention and use of solitary confinement
The Committee is concerned about the continued practice of holding persons deprived of their liberty, including, under certain circumstances, juveniles and persons with mental disabilities, in prolonged solitary confinement and about detainees being held in solitary confinement in pretrial detention. The Committee is furthermore concerned about poor detention conditions in death-row facilities (arts. 7, 9, 10, 17 and 24).
The State party should monitor the conditions of detention in prisons, including private detention facilities, with a view to ensuring that persons deprived of their liberty are treated in accordance with the requirements of articles 7 and 10 of the Covenant and the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. It should impose strict limits on the use of solitary confinement, both pretrial and following conviction, in the federal system as well as nationwide, and abolish the practice in respect of anyone under the age of 18 and prisoners with serious mental illness. It should also bring the detention conditions of prisoners on death row in to line with international standards .
Detainees at Guantánamo Bay
While noting the President’s commitment to closing the Guantánamo Bay facility and the appointment of Special Envoys at the United States Departments of State and of Defense to continue to pursue the transfer of designated detainees, the Committee regrets that no timeline for closure of the facility has been provided. The Committee is also concerned that detainees held in Guantánamo Bay and in military facilities in Afghanistan are not dealt with through the ordinary criminal justice system after a protracted period of over a decade, in some cases (arts. 7, 9, 10 and 14) .
The State party should expedite the transfer of detainees designated for transfer, including to Yemen , as well as the process of periodic review for Guantánamo detainees and ensure either their trial or their immediate release and the closure of the Guantánamo Bay facility. It should end the system of administrative detention without charge or trial and ensure that any criminal cases against detainees held in Guantánamo and in military facilities in Afghanistan are dealt with through the criminal justice system rather than military commissions , and that those detainees are afforded the fair trial guarantees enshrined in article 14 of the Covenant.
National Security Agency surveillance
The Committee is concerned about the surveillance of communications in the interest of protecting national security, conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) both within and outside the United States, through the bulk phone metadata surveillance programme (Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act) and, in particular, surveillance under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendment Act, conducted through PRISM (collection ofcommunications content from United States-based Internet companies) and UPSTREAM (collection of communications metadata and content by tapping fiber-optic cables carrying Internet traffic) and the adverse impact on individuals’ right to privacy. The Committee is concerned that, until recently, judicial interpretations of FISA and rulings of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) had largely been kept secret, thus not allowing affected persons to know the law with sufficient precision. The Committee is concerned that the current oversight system of the activities of the NSA fails to effectively protect the rights of the persons affected. While welcoming the recent Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-28, which now extends some safeguards to non-United States citizens “to the maximum extent feasible consistent with the national security”, the Committee remains concerned that such persons enjoy only limited protection against excessive surveillance. Finally, the Committee is concerned that the persons affected have no access to effective remedies in case of abuse (arts. 2, 5 (1) and 17).
The State party should:
(a) T ake all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities, both within and outside the United States, conform to its obligations under the Covenant, including article 17 ; in particular, measures should be taken to ensure that any interference with the right to privacy complies with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity , regardless of the nationality or location of the individuals whose communications are under direct surveillance;
(b) E nsure that any interference with the right to privacy, family, home or correspondence is authorized by laws that : ( i ) are publicly accessible; (ii) contain provisions that ensure that collection of, access to and use of communication s data are tailored to specific legitimate aims; (iii) are sufficiently precise and specify in detail the precise circumstances in which any such interference may be permitted , the procedures for authoriz ation , the categories of persons who may be placed under surveillance , the limit on the duration of surveillance; procedures for the use and storage of data collected; and (i v ) provide for effective safeguards against abuse ;
(c) R eform the current oversight system of surveillance activities to ensure its effectiveness , including by providing for judicial involvement in the authorization or monitoring of surveillance measures, and considering the establish ment of strong and independent oversight mandates with a view to prevent ing abuses;
(d) Refrain from imposing mandatory retention of data by third parties;
(e) Ensure that affected persons have access to effective remedies in cases of abuse.
Juvenile justice and life imprisonment without parole
While noting with satisfaction the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting sentences of life imprisonment without parole for children convicted of non-homicide offences (Graham v. Florida), and barring sentences of mandatory life imprisonment without parole for children convicted of homicide offences (Miller v. Alabama) and the State party’s commitment to their retroactive application, the Committee is concerned that a court may still, at its discretion, sentence a defendant to life imprisonment without parole for a homicide committed as a juvenile, and that a mandatory or non-homicide-related sentence of life imprisonment without parole may still be applied to adults. The Committee is also concerned that many states exclude 16 and 17 year olds from juvenile court jurisdictions so that juveniles continue to be tried in adult courts and incarcerated in adult institutions (arts. 7, 9, 10, 14, 15 and 24).
The State party should prohibit and abolish the sentence of life imprisonment without parole for juveniles, irrespective of the crime committed , as well as the mandatory and non-homicide - related sentence of life imprisonment without parole . It should also ensure that juveniles are separated from adults during pretrial detention and after sentencing , and that juveniles are not transferred to adult courts . It should encourage states that automatically exclude 16 and 17 year olds f ro m juvenile court jurisdiction s to change their laws .
While noting with satisfaction the statement by the Attorney General on 11 February 2014, calling for a reform of state laws on felony disenfranchisement, the Committee reiterates its concern about the persistence of state-level felon disenfranchisement laws, its disproportionate impact on minorities and the lengthy and cumbersome voting restoration procedures in states. The Committee is further concerned that voter identification and other recently introduced eligibility requirements may impose excessive burdens on voters and result in de facto disenfranchisement of large numbers of voters, including members of minority groups. Finally, the Committee reiterates its concern that residents of the District of Columbia (D.C.) are denied the right to vote for and elect voting representatives to the United States Senate and House of Representatives (arts. 2, 10, 25 and 26).
The State party should ensure that all states reinstate voting rights to felons who have fully served their sentences ; provide inmates with information about their voting restoration options ; remove or streamline lengthy and cumbersome voting restoration procedures ; as well as review automatic denial of the vote to any imprisoned felon, regardless of the nature of the offence . The State party should also take all necessary measures to ensure that voter identification requirements and the new eligibility requirements do not impose excessive burdens on voters and result in de facto disenfranchisement. The State party should also provide for the full voting rights of residents of Washington , D.C.
Rights of indigenous peoples
The Committee is concerned about the insufficient measures taken to protect the sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction as a result of urbanization, extractive industries, industrial development, tourism and toxic contamination. It is also concerned about the restriction of access of indigenous peoples to sacred areas that are essential for the preservation of their religious, cultural and spiritual practices, and the insufficiency of consultation with indigenous peoples on matters of interest to their communities (art. 27).
The State party should adopt measures to effectively protect sacred areas of indigenous peoples against desecration, contamination and destruction and ensure that consultations are held with the indigenous communities that might be adversely affected by the State party’s development projects and exploitation of natural resources with a view to obtaining their free, prior and informed consent for p roposed project activities.
The State party should widely disseminate the Covenant, the text of its fourth periodic report, the written replies to the list of issues drawn up by the Committee and the present concludingobservations among the judicial, legislative and administrativeauthorities, civil society and non-governmental organizations operating in the country, aswell as the general public.
In accordance with rule 71, paragraph 5, of the Committee’s rules of procedure, the State party should provide, within one year, relevant information on its implementation of the Committee’s recommendations made in paragraphs 5, 10, 21 and 22 above.
The Committee requests the State party to provide in its next periodic report due to be submitted on 28 March 2019 specific, up-to-date information on the implementation of all its recommendations and on the Covenant as a whole. The Committee also requests the State party, when preparing its next periodic report, to continue its practice of broadly consulting with civil society and non-governmental organizations.