Skip to Content

UN Human Rights Review to Include Repression of Stop Cop City; Rev. Keyanna Jones to Represent in Geneva

Press Release
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jen Nessel, Center for Constitutional Rights, [email protected], +1 917-442-0112

ATLANTA – Ahead of a review of the United States government by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the movement to Stop Cop City makes an appeal to the world claiming that the use of Domestic Terrorism and RICO statutes against activists, as well as the police killing of Manuel Paez “Tortuguita” Terán, constitute human rights violations under international law. Reverend Keyanna Jones of Community Movement Builders will travel to Geneva, Switzerland as part of a national delegation of human rights defenders to raise these and other issues at a moment of heightened scrutiny of U.S. domestic affairs on the world stage. During the session, the Committee will hear from advocates and impacted people directly during an oral testimony portion to which Rev. Jones is expected to contribute.

“It is imperative that the world become aware of the unprecedented level of state repression that continues to chill free speech and criminalize freedom of thought, expression and opinion in the U.S. The government has shown that it will violate the human rights of anyone who dares to oppose police militarization or stand in defense of environmental protection,” Rev. Keyanna Jones, Community Movement Builders.

Last month, the Southern Center for Human Rights and the University of Dayton Human Rights Center submitted a report to the Committee documenting the government’s repression of the movement to Stop Cop City and Defend the Atlanta Forest. The report chronicles a concerted effort by public and private entities to silence protest and dissent, chill peaceful assembly, and threaten free thought, opinion, and expression–all of which are protected under international law. In addition, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Community Movement Builders submitted a thematic report on the abuses of “terrorism” laws and how they violate the rights to protest and dissent, and highlights Atlanta as one of the most prominent current examples.

A panel of eighteen independent experts will consider the reports as part of its broader evaluation of the U.S. government’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a treaty signed by President George H.W. Bush and ratified by the Senate back in 1992. Following the session, the panel will issue “Concluding Observations” with recommendations for the U.S. government to improve its human rights record.

“Atlanta touts its civil rights legacy without giving due attention to the unacceptable current conditions in the city, including persistent state violence, housing insecurity and racial income inequality. Advancing human rights means we must not ignore the reality under which so many suffer,” Tiffany Roberts, Director of Public Policy, Southern Center for Human Rights.

In August 2022, Mayor Andre Dickens served as a delegate to a review of the U.S. government before the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, but raised no issues related to Atlanta’s perpetuation of systemic racial discrimination. In December 2022, in cooperation with civil society, Atlanta City Council unanimously passed a resolution naming Atlanta the newest U.S. “Human Rights City,” committing leaders to using human rights to guide local policies and practices. Also in December 2022, Tiffany Roberts attended the 1st Session of the Permanent Forum on People of African Descent in Geneva and offered an intervention related to state violence in Atlanta. Just one year later, in the face of an onslaught on Atlanta residents’ human rights in the interest of erecting Cop City, Rev. Jones intends to put Atlanta back in the spotlight.

The review sessions occur on October 17 and 18, 2023 and will be streamed live via UN WebTV

For more information, please contact Jen Nessel, Communications Coordinator at the Center for Constitutional Rights: [email protected], +1 917-442-0112.