UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has released a report calling on Member States to adopt a “transformative agenda” to uproot systemic racism.
“The status quo is untenable,” High Commissioner Bachelet said in a press release issued on 28 June 2021. “Systemic racism needs a systemic response. We need a transformative approach that tackles the interconnected areas that drive racism, and lead to repeated, wholly avoidable, tragedies like the death of George Floyd.”
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The High Commissioner’s analysis of 190 deaths demonstrated that law enforcement officers are rarely held accountable for human rights violations and crimes against people of African descent, due in part to deficient investigations, a lack of independent and robust oversight and complaint and accountability mechanisms, and a widespread “presumption of guilt” against people of African descent. With rare exceptions, investigations, prosecutions, trials and judicial decisions fail to consider the role that racial discrimination, stereotypes and institutional bias may have played in the deaths. Seven illustrative cases were particularly closely examined including the death of Kevin Clarke who died after he was restrained by Metropolitan police officers in March 2018, in Lewisham, south London.
“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.”
The report details the “compounding inequalities” and “stark socioeconomic and political marginalization” that afflict people of African descent in many States. Across numerous countries, most notably in North and South America and in Europe, people of African descent disproportionately live in poverty and face serious barriers in accessing their rights to education, healthcare, employment, adequate housing and clean water, as well as to political participation, and other fundamental human rights.Report of UNHCHR on systemic racism by police