Human Rights Issues – 2002

Reference: Women of Reform Judaism

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  1. Current anti-terrorism legislation, policies and strategies of the United States infringe on constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and liberties.
  2. Human rights violations are evident in slavery and forced labor occurring on all continents and in genocide and crimes against humanity of warring countries.
  3. Jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court , once in session, will be universal, but the United States has not ratified the treaty and thus cannot participate in deliberations regarding its development.

Over half a century ago, the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, now Women of Reform Judaism, sounded the clarion call for human rights. A 1948 resolution states, “human rights and fundamental freedoms are basic to the maintenance of peace… and vigilance is necessary to secure these rights both within the nation and in international society.”

1) United States Security Efforts Raise Civil Liberties Concerns

The reaction to the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have brought civil liberties issues to the forefront of attention in the United States. While coping with sorrow and horror in the aftermath of the attacks, government efforts have addressed the urgent need to prevent future terrorism and protect American security. It is, however, of grave concern that this effort includes provisions that could seriously erode our constitutionally mandated rights and liberties.

In late October 2001, the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA Patriot)” Act was signed into law. This law raised concerns on the part of civil libertarians in three areas: surveillance, immigration, and criminal justice. A few examples are described below. Law enforcement officials no longer are required to have probable cause to commence and continue surveillance in criminal and immigration investigations of citizens and non-citizens. This weakens the protections provided by the Bill of Rights, in the Fourth and Sixth amendments to the United States Constitution. The act reduces the once active judicial oversight of wiretapping and roving wiretaps that cover all telephones used by an individual, as well as Internet surveillance. It also expands governmental power to conduct secret searches, in which law enforcement officials can enter and search an individual’s home without a warrant and use the information in legal proceedings without first informing the individual targeted.


To read the full text from the article, please visit the Women of Reform Judaism website at: