Statements Issued by the CIHR

Statements Issued by the CIHR

CIHR Statement on the Events of January 6, 2021

Dear Friends of CIHR,

What we witnessed on January 6, 2021, was nothing short of an attempted coup enabled by persistently false allegations of voter fraud advanced by public officials at the highest echelons of the Federal Government, first and foremost by the President himself. This attempted coup sought to interfere with the constitutional duty of our elected representatives to certify the duly cast Electoral College ballots, an intervention aimed at the disenfranchisement of millions of voters who dutifully exercised their fundamental right to vote. This right is enshrined in the US Constitution and in international law, including article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. In this vein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed her concern that "Allegations of electoral fraud have been invoked to try to undermine the right to political participation. We are encouraged to see that the process has continued despite serious attempts to disrupt it. We call on leaders from across the political spectrum, including the President of the United States, to disavow false and dangerous narratives, and encourage their supporters to do so as well."

In step with the international community, we condemn in the strongest of terms the egregious acts that took place in Washington, DC and in several other state capitol buildings across the United States. These acts constituted attacks against elected officials and sought to incite further violence in a broader effort to erode this nation’s core democratic values and norms. Five lives were tragically lost that day. 

While a person's political views may and often do guide her/his actions, these views should never lead to or condone acts of violence. The promotion and protection of fundamental human rights are at stake here. It is worth recalling that this country was 'present at the creation' of the human rights regime, a leadership role that has been severely challenged and undermined by a series of events, including those that occurred on January 6th.

CIHR notes that the major security failures that led to the January 6th siege also laid bare deep-rooted biases within America’s law enforcement and security institutions. From accounts of the immediate response, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the downplaying of the security threat was in part due to the perception that a group of predominantly white attendees was “only protesting” and that these attendees were “protected” by their 1st Amendment rights, despite abundant forewarning of impending violent acts. As such, a double standard was displayed when compared to law enforcement’s response to the protests against police brutality and systemic racism held in the summer of 2020, following the death of George Floyd. Furthermore, according to news reports, several Capitol Police officers were suspended and at least 10 more are being investigated for their conduct during the attack on the Capitol; there are also indications that additional investigations into the activities of current and former law enforcement officers are under way.

CIHR deplores this lack of consistency in security and surveillance measures based on political and racial profiling that violates the concept of equal protection under the law. The US Government (Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation) has already designated far right extremist and white supremacist groups as the number 1 security threat to the homeland in 2019 and 2020. In this context, we call on the US Government to demonstrate the will and resolve to address the threat posed by these groups and refrain from the discriminatory application of security measures against Black and Brown populations; and to proceed without delay with an independent and thorough investigation into the events of January 6th.

In closing, we look forward to a peaceful transition of power on January 20, 2021 and to a renewed commitment to human rights in the US and abroad.

 


 On the Killing of George Floyd and the Protests (Summer 2020)

The Center for International Human Rights (CIHR) strongly condemns the killing of George Floyd. What makes this incident particularly troubling is not just the sheer lack of basic humanity exhibited by the law enforcement officers involved, but that such inhumane conduct reinforces the realization that it is part of the everyday experience of African-American people across the United States. The ensuing protests constitute a legitimate response to the anger and frustration generated by systemic racism which negates fundamental human rights norms of non-discrimination and racial equality. In addition, the militarized response favored by the current Administration indicates that constitutional rights to freedom of expression and association are also at risk.

At this juncture, it is important to engage in a conversation of the underlying issues that are causing these demonstrations in this country and abroad. The basic parameters and priorities of political and socio-economic life are in need of critical reexamination and assessment in order to ensure a more inclusive social order. This is a global conversation that should involve domestic, as well as international actors and processes. In this vein, we endorse the idea of petitioning the United Nations Human Rights Council for the establishment of an International Commission of Inquiry to investigate racial injustice in the United States. These issues transcend borders and their internationalization will reaffirm that they are part of a much-needed global conversation and that the relevant mechanisms and processes have been designed to address problems wherever they occur, and not designed to be confined to the Global South.

 

         -  George Andreopoulos, Professor of Political Science and Director, CIHR

         -  Jennifer Hirst, Graduate Student and Assistant to the Director, CIHR

          -  Marie- Michelle Strah, Adjunct Assistant Professor, International Crime and Justice Program

          -  Ray Hilker, Research Assistant, CIHR