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Human Rights

The ACLU Human Rights Program works to ensure that the U.S. government complies with universal human rights principles in addition to the U.S. Constitution. The Program uses human rights strategies to complement existing ACLU advocacy.

NEW YORK — Following the attacks in Paris, some U.S. governors, including North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, and federal lawmakers have moved to restrict the planned resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States.

Cecillia Wang, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants' Rights Project, said:

"Some politicians have attempted to fabricate a link between the tragedy in Paris and the resettlement of Syrian refugees to the United States. Making policy based on this fear mongering is wrong for two reasons. It is factually wrong for blaming refugees for the very terror they are fleeing, and it is legally wrong because it violates our laws and the values on which our country was founded."

CHAPEL HILL - The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina is commemorating five decades of work defending civil liberties with a 10-panel exhibit at the Chapel Hill Public Library this fall. ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty documents ACLU-NC’s work on the key issues of free speech, racial justice, voting rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights, privacy rights, criminal justice reform, and religious liberty.

“The ACLU of North Carolina has been on the front lines of issues that continue to be critically important across our state and right here in our community,” said Chapel Hill Public Library Director Susan Brown. “The ACLU-NC was founded to challenge the infamous ‘Speaker Ban,’ and Chapel Hill was the epicenter of that historic fight for free speech. We are proud to be the Triangle’s host location for the exhibit.”

On Sunday, September 13, at 7:00 p.m., the public is invited to an opening reception at the Library, located at 100 Library Drive in Chapel Hill. Members of the ACLU-NC will be present and area residents can engage with both them and the exhibit, while enjoying light refreshments and hearing about the past, present, and future of the ACLU-NC. RSVP online here.

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RALEIGH – A coalition of human rights groups today sent a letter asking the United States Department of Justice to open an investigation into the use of solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons. The letter comes weeks after President Obama ordered the Justice Department to review the use of solitary confinement across the country and criticized the practice in a major speech on criminal justice reform.  

The 15-page letter – signed by North Carolina Prisoner Legal Services, the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Prison Project, the ACLU of North Carolina, the University of North Carolina School of Law Human Rights Policy Seminar, the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and North Carolina Stop Torture Now – chronicles the recent deaths of several inmates held in solitary confinement in North Carolina, as well as the mistreatment and horrific conditions suffered by countless more. One of those prisoners, Michael Anthony Kerr, a 53-year-old former Army sergeant diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, died of dehydration in March 2014 after spending 35 days in solitary confinement. In the letter, the groups document North Carolina’s failure to provide adequate resources for prison mental health services and explain how inmates with mental illness are disciplined for manifestations of their illness and often released directly to the community after months or years in isolation.  

“Understaffed, underfunded, and plagued by arbitrary standards, insufficient oversight, and inadequate resources for inmates with mental illness, North Carolina’s solitary confinement regime must change,” the letter reads. “However, governmental efforts and calls from the media and the public have resulted in little meaningful reform.  Every day that the status quo endures without intervention, North Carolina’s system for housing inmates in solitary confinement claims more victims to needless suffering and death.”

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By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, Staff Attorney, ACLU of North Carolina

According to Locke Bell, the district attorney of Gaston County, North Carolina, the ethnicity of a domestic-violence survivor can disqualify that person from equal protection under the law. The Charlotte Observer reports that Bell refused to certify a domestic violence survivor’s visa application because he thinks the relevant law protecting crime victims “was never intended to protect Latinos from Latinos.”

The controversy surrounds Evelin, a domestic violence survivor who courageously called police to press charges against her abusive boyfriend. She says he punched her, kicked her, and pulled her hair. Last week, he returned to her home after being deported, accused her of seeing another man, and repeatedly kicked her. Evelin reported the crime to the police and, as is her right, applied for a U visa.

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CHARLOTTE – Levine Museum of the New South is hosting a 10-panel history exhibit, “ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty,” that chronicles the American Civil Liberties Union’s work defending civil liberties in North Carolina since the founding of its North Carolina affiliate in 1965.

The exhibit, which recounts the ACLU of North Carolina’s work on eight key civil liberties issues – free speech, voting rights, privacy rights, criminal justice reform, LGBT equality, women’s rights, racial justice, and religious liberty – is on display at Levine Museum of the New South 200 E. 7th Street in Charlotte through July 12

“This exhibit provides the public with an opportunity to learn about the history of civil liberties in our state and the unique role the ACLU of North Carolina has played in many important struggles for individual rights over the last half century,” said Jennifer Rudinger, who has served as executive director of the ACLU-NC since May 2004. “Much has changed in North Carolina over the last fifty years, but the core principle guiding the ACLU-NC has remained the same: If the rights of society’s most vulnerable members are denied, everyone’s rights are imperiled. Those who see this exhibit will hopefully walk away remembering that freedom can’t protect itself, and that the ACLU of North Carolina, while controversial to some, has spent five decades working on the front lines to protect and advance civil liberties for all North Carolinians.”   

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