United States. Concrete actions are needed to “eradicate the scourge of racism” – UN expert |
After the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviewed the record of racial justice in the United States, the United Nations human rights office released a statement in which the CERD expert and national rapporteur Faith Dikeledi Pansy Tlakula recounted her observation that the country’s rate of gun homicides had increased. , especially among black men and in poor communities.
While acknowledging the steps that had been taken to address gun violence, Ms Tlakula wondered what was being done to address its “disparate impact” on racial and ethnic minorities as well as indigenous peoples.
UN News/Elizabeth Scaffidi
Lack of federal coordination
Amid a significant increase in hate crimes against ethnic minorities, the Committee welcomed recent US legislation, such as the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, but questioned why the country is not had not yet institutionalized a coordination mechanism, such as a national human rights institution.
Ms. Tlakula said that the Committee had repeatedly expressed concern about the absence of such a mechanism and asked what measures had been adopted to create a permanent and effective coordination mechanism at the federal level.
The Committee noted that the United States is aware of its recommendations on the creation of a national human rights institute and that it will take them into consideration insofar as they can be implemented under the presidency of Joe Biden. .
The Committee also stressed that the country provides accountability regarding the use of force, noting that the Department of Homeland Security has enforced strict standards of conduct for police officers.
Additionally, a department-wide Use of Force Policy, which emphasizes respect for human life, was released in 2018 and updated in 2021.
And police training was provided on de-escalation, use of force and border fence patrols.
© UNSPLASH/Clay Banks
The US Office of Civil Rights and Liberties has also investigated instances of excessive use of force and tracked them via an online dashboard, with more than 600 such incidents recorded so far this year.
Implementation of recommendations
In her closing remarks, Ms Tlakula told the Committee that uncomfortable conversations and concrete measures and actions were needed “to appease the scourge of racism”.
She also expressed hope that the country will continue its consultations with civil society, saying that they will lead to progress in the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations.
The American delegation responds
US Ambassador to the Human Rights Council and head of the delegation, Michèle Taylor, acknowledged that the United States must do better to eliminate racial discrimination and was “deeply committed” to using all the levers at their disposal to achieve this.
The US Department of State’s Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice and co-head of the delegation, Desirée Cormier Smith, said the country shares the Committee’s vision of sustained efforts to eliminate racial discrimination. She also expressed sadness that minority ethnic and racial groups still have to fight for the freedoms enjoyed by the white population.
The Committee will issue its concluding observations on the US report after the session ends on August 30.
Summaries of public Committee meetings can be found here, and webcasts here.
Special rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, to examine and report on a specific human rights theme or country situation. The posts are honorary and the experts are not remunerated for their work.