UN rights chief urges end to systematic racism against Black people
The UN human rights chief has called for countries around the world, in particular the United states, to dismantle discrimination and prosecute law enforcement officials for unlawful killings, saying racism against people of African descent remains systemic in many parts of the globe.
In a landmark report launched after the murder of African-American George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020, Michelle Bachelet said that police use of racial profiling and excessive force is entrenched in much of North America, Europe and Latin America.
“I am calling on all states to stop denying, and start dismantling, racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent; and to confront past legacies and deliver redress," she said.
Structural racism creates barriers to minorities' access to jobs, healthcare, housing, education and justice, she said in the report to the Human Rights Council.
Bachelet urged countries worldwide to do more to help end discrimination, violence and systemic racism against people of African descent and “make amends” to them — including through reparations.
The report cited 190 deaths, mostly in the US, to show how law-enforcement officers are rarely held accountable for rights violations and crimes against Black people people of African descent. It selected seven "emblematic cases", including that of Floyd.
A judge sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin on Friday to 22-1/2 years for his murder, which became an emblem of the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Other victims include an Afro-Brazilian boy, 14, shot dead in an anti-drug police operation in Sao Paulo in May 2020 and a Frenchman of Malian origin, 24, who died in police custody in July 2016.
"Racism and racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent are often rooted in policies and practices grounded in the debasement of the status of individuals in society," the report said.
The scourge is most prevalent in countries with a legacy of slavery, the transatlantic trade in enslaved Africans, or colonialism resulting in large communities of people of African descent, the UN report added.
"Systemic racism needs a systemic response," Bachelet said. "There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice."
Earlier this month, 600 rights groups urged a UN probe into US police brutality, calling on the world body to launch an investigation into police violence and repression of protests in the United States.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and World Organization against Torture (OMCT) were among the groups that signed a letter to the UN Human Rights Council.