10 December, 2009 — Center for Constitutional Rights
Each year the world celebrates Human Rights Day on December 10, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), adopted by the United Nations 61 years ago today. Through the UDHR, the international community set out for the first time the rights that all human beings inherently possess, going beyond the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution to embrace the right to work, the right to healthcare and food and shelter and education. Read the Declaration and its inspiring and expansive vision for a just society on our website.
Embodied in the UDHR, and central to so much of CCR’s current work, is the right not to be tortured, abused or subjected to arbitrary detention as well as the right to a fair trial and an independent and impartial judiciary. Yet, as we close out this decade, countless individuals have had – and continue to have – these most basic of human rights denied to them.
There remains a glaring lack of justice for those who have been subjected to illegal and unconscionable treatment at the hands of the U.S. government since 9/11. The UDHR also provides the right to a remedy. CCR’s client Maher Arar has waited far too long for justice. In a message today to the American public, he writes:
A few weeks ago, seven federal judges told me I had no way to seek justice in American courts for being sent by U.S. officials to be tortured in Syria, where I spent nearly a year in a grave-like underground cell. I was a victim of an “extraordinary rendition”: I was seized by U.S. officials while changing planes in September 2002 at the Kennedy International Airport on my way home to Canada, prevented from going to court and sent, over my protests, to a country where I knew I would be tortured. Despite both the Syrian and Canadian governments finding I had no connection to terrorism whatsoever, I have still received no justice from the United States and have seen no change since President Obama took office.
CCR will continue to work with Maher Arar as, together, we search for new paths to justice for him and his family. We will continue to call on President Obama to not only reverse the destructive Bush-era practices of rendition and indefinite detention but to hold those who broke the law accountable.
As we enter the next decade, we need you and all of our allies to stand with us in the fight to protect, enforce and expand universal human rights. Let us work together to make that humane vision for society adopted 61 years ago a reality today.
Director of Education and Outreach