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Seeking International Justice for Immigrants Detained After September 11

Published January 2004

THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION IS the nation's premier guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States.

Nadine Strossen, President
Anthony Romero, Executive Director
Kenneth B. Clark, Chair,

Executive Advisory Council
Richard Zacks, Treasurer



National Headquarters 125 Broad Street, 18th Fl. New York, NY 10004-2400 (212) 549-2500 www.aclu.org

SIDEBAR: The Office of the Inspector General Reports

A Fight For Rights on Two Fronts
SIDEBAR: The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention .
Responding to the Roundup
Of "Civil Liberties” and “Human Rights”

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In other words, these men simply disap

peared. ore than 65 years ago, using its might and its moral authority in this report and our complaint are efforts to

the aftermath of World War II, make their stories known and to achieve the United States led a global effort to pass

some measure of justice for the detained the Universal Declaration of Human

men and their families. The full impact of Rights.

the recent crackdown against Muslim and

Arab communities is yet to be told. Today, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the govern- By filing this complaint, the ACLU is takment is dangerously eroding civil liberties ing a step to help ensure that our national in America, especially those of immi- policies and practices reflect not just U.S. grants. The roundup and detention of Arab constitutional standards but also accepted and Muslim men carried out with

international norms regarding liberty and

its deprivations. unprecedented secrecy violated both the civil rights guaranteed by our Constitution and the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration that the United States helped to create.

4 a pour

Executive Director
American Civil Liberties Union

To augment the work we have done domestically to protect civil liberties, the ACLU is bringing the case of these immigrants to an international forum: the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in

AD ACLU Report


Seeking International Justice for
Immigrants Detained After September 11

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arresi, detention or exile.

- Article 9, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

All persons deprived of their liberty shall he treuted with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignily of the human person.

Article 10, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ome were startled awake by an carly The agents picked them up on the flimsiest of morning knock at the door. For others. it "tips" or as a result of chance encounters. One

rough interrogation after a routine traffic viola- hospital co-worker gave the FBI his name tion or an order barked from a van to pull over because she thought he wore his surgical mask to the side of the road.

"more than necessary" at work. Another said he

was arrested when agents came to his apartIn the days, wecks and months following the ment looking for the previous tenant. They settragic events of Scptember 11, 2001, hundreds tled for him instcad. of American immigrants were rounded up and detained, often under harsh or abusive condi- These sweeps and arrests were accomplished Lions, in the name of keeping America sale. Nou through the arbitrary and haphazard en one because of evidence (or even sound hunches) ment of minor immigration laws. Indeed, on that they were involved in the terrorist attacks October 25, 2001, Attorney General John that brutally ended the lives of more than 3,100 Ashcroft brandished this tactic as a weapon, in pcoplc. Not because they were found to have a statement that effectively equated immigrants tics to or cven knowledge of - terrorist with terrorism: "Let the terrorists among us bc groups who might threaten American security wamed," he said. "If you overstay your visa – in the future.

even by one day - we will arrest you..."

Instead, hundreds of immigrants were urbitrar- Once arrested, many immigrants were labeled ily snared in this dragnet, marked for arrest and "of interest" to the September 11 investigation thrown (literally, at times) in jail. The exact and thrown into legal limbo - detained for number is unknown, because the government wecks or months in connection with a criminal refuses to release that information. They had investigation, but denied the due process rights one thing in common: Almost all were Arab or that they would have been entitled 10 had they South Asian men, and almost all were Muslim. actually been charged with crimes.

Speerb given at the C.S. Conference of Mayors. Recouated in the April 2003 report of the lospector General of the Justice Department. "The September 11 Detaineer: A Review of the Treatment of Aliens Held on Immigration Charges in with the Investigation of the September 11 Attacks," p. 12.

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