U.N. Independent Expert Recommends Remedies for U.S. Race Relations

"The historical, cultural and human depth of racism still permeates all dimensions of life in American society," says Doudou Diène, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.

Diène, a Senegalese attorney appointed to his post by the United Nations Human Rights Council, toured the United States last year for approximately three weeks, meeting with local, state and federal officials and non-governmental organizations, including the ACLU. He just issued a report of his findings based on that visit.

Given that his mandate spans the globe, Diène's recommendations for the U.S. are remarkably spot-on. For instance, to remedy racial discrimination in law enforcement — where "instances of direct discrimination and concrete bias...are most pronounced" — Diène suggests the U.S. should adopt the federal End Racial Profiling Act, pass state legislation prohibiting racial profiling, and take other steps to monitor and address profiling by police. The U.S. should also review mandatory minimum sentences, improve public defender services, and eliminate life without parole sentences for people convicted of crimes committed as juveniles, all of which contribute to the over-criminalization of people of color.

Diène's findings pay particular attention what he calls "the most important means of promoting equality of opportunity": ensuring that all students have access to quality education. With that goal in mind, he calls upon the United States to examine zero tolerance and other harsh disciplinary policies, and to "revisit those measures that are disproportionately affecting racial or ethnic minorities." He also calls for measures to combat the resegregation of public schools and expresses his "particular…concern…about the retraction of affirmative action policies."

Diène's report has much in common with the findings of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which, in March 2008, also called upon the United States to eliminate racial discrimination, highlighting, among other things, the persistence of racial profiling.

Following the release of Diène report, Chandra Bhatnagar of the ACLU Human Rights Program stated:

Our government invited the U.N. Special Rapporteur to conduct a thorough analysis of racial discrimination in the United States, and now our government should take notice of the widespread and systemic problems that he documented. The report highlights very serious issues including racism in the criminal justice system, and the disparity between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine, serious abuses facing immigrant and African-American workers in the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the overall vulnerability of immigrant workers around the country, and the need to meaningfully address the 'school-to-prison pipeline.' The Obama administration has an opportunity to address all of these important issues and this report offers us a path forward toward justice, equality and human rights for all."

Diène's report will be presented before the Human Rights Council on June 16 in Geneva, Switzerland. Coincidentally tomorrow, the United Nations General Assembly will be electing the new members of the Human Rights Council, and the list of new members will include the U.S., which last month has made a bid to join the council. We hope the Obama administration will take Diène's report, as well as the CERD committee recommendations, seriously and incorporate them into the existing policy reviews and discussions.

 

In his famous speech on race, Obama said: "America can change … Not just with words, but with deeds — by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations." We could not agree more, and with U.S. action to end racial discrimination, it will send the right message to the world that U.S. commitment to human rights goes beyond words.

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Maggie

Now the US is run by the UN? I believe this is dangerous territory you are entering. Yes the US has problems but they should be handled by the US and not some outside entity. If this country is going to run by the UN then the attorneys at the ACLU need to look for new jobs because you will be out of business real soon. Remember not all countries would allow you to even be in existance.

Sean

The UN wants to call the shots for our race problems?? they need to look at themselves first, when Europe is a peaceful multiculural contenent without animosity towards others perhaps we might look at they're plan, until then....UN stay out of our business...worthless organization.

AL

PROTECT AMERICA AT ALL COSTS. SCREW THE U.N. AND THE A.C.L.U. NEITHER ONE OF THESE ORGINIZATIONS LOOK OUT FOR WHATS BEST FOR AMERICA AND AMERICANS. GET OUT AND STAY OUT OF MY COUNTRY. BUNCH OF BLEEDING HEART, PUSSY LIBERALS.

roald

Al, stop yelling. It makes your posts difficult to read.

If you want to protect the US at all costs, we could simply use atomic weapons to destroy every other country. Sound good to you?

The purpose of the UN is look out for the good of all nations. The purpose of the ACLU is to protect our civil liberties. Would you prefer to be one of the people cowering in their homes or the jack-boot kicking in their door because they do not agree with you?

You are entitled to your opinion and I will listen to it. Facts might help me change my mind. Do not, however call this your country. That is insulting to the people who died protecting the freedoms you would take away from us to gain personal security.

dave

I'm sick of hearing about it. Discrimination, racial profiling occur in all sectors of society, with no one, not even whites, exempt. Profiling is based on numbers...the vast majority of gang members and convicted inmates involved in drug dealing are Black or Hispanic. Kinda makes profiling effective, albeit not foolproof. It's time for people to take personal responsibility for their conduct, and not use more laws as a crutch. Truth is truth, even if it hurts.

Patetoa

What about the criminals that racial profiling takes off the streets? If the police only issue citations to 1:10 people they stop, and that one guy was going to be the thief or murderer that was going to target your family next, isn't it worth it?

The police in my city pulled over a truck with a young black man driving it at approximately 2am (the report said)three weeks ago now. The officer saw golf clubs in the truck bed as he approached, and questioned the driver about them (which to me seemed to be a bit of profiling). When his story didn't match his passenger's about who the clubs belonged to, the officer ran the truck plates and went through the golf bag, which both turned out to be stolen. Evidently, the guy and his lackey had robbed several residences in their new neighborhood, were caught that night, and are now awaiting trial. As luck would have it, my prescription medicine with my name on it was in my golf club bag that they stole. It ended up getting those guys off the streets, well, that and some good ole racial profiling.

roald

Profiling is a good thing , as long as you are not in the group being profiled.

dave...I cannot demonstrate that the vast majority of gang members and convicted inmates are Black or Hispanic, can you? I recall that frightening statistic that x% of drug users are from the inner city (code for Black) without the other half that 100-x% are rural and suburban dwellers. Are you looking at independent statistics or watching the news?

Assuming that you are correct, is that due to poverty, some inherent weakness in "their" character, or because they are being profiled. If I do 100% inspection on one population and 1% on another and each has an equal number of defects, I will detect more defects in the first population, but cannot reach any conclusions about which is better.

Patetoa, I am glad you got your property back. How would you feel if you were profiled because of your race? Would that be OK because many criminals are of your race.

Richard

If you are black and commit a crime, you deserve punishment. If you are white and commit a crime you deserve punishment. It is simple, we dont need the ACLU, the U.N., or any other agency to tell us that.
If the ratio of those commiting crimes is out of balance, then the balance of those punished should be the same. Simple isnt it. If one race commits more crimes, it should be evident in our prisons.
Stop trying to make a racial issue out of this. it is a matter of "do the crime-do the time".

Jennifer

So many people assume that the legal system actually is targeting and then punishing those who "do the crime." The bulk of evidence shows it's not true - sorry, but it's not.

There's a saying - The rich get richer and the poor get prison - pretty true. At every stage of the game, those who are more well off, and those who are white, are pulled out of system more often so that those who are left are poorer and darker - and then it's reported in the media that those are who our convicts are - "they" are the criminals. One of the highest concentrations of drug use (and dealing) is college campuses - but rarely are college kids arrested and charged - why, because when there were efforts to do just this, their parents had a middle-class (largely white) fit because their kids weren't real criminals, just experimenting.

You may say "no matter your color, if you do a crime you should be punished," but it just doesn't work that way - and there is so much evidence to prove it. (Ask for actual citations if you want it, happy to provide it). The bummer is, it's easier not to believe the evidence and instead believe stories on the news, and a rare incident in our own life, versus the reality that the person most likely to victimize us looks just like us (whatever our color).

It IS a racial issue - and a CLASS issue as well. Poor and working class whites are also affected. But it's a lot easier to believe it's just about bad individuals doing bad things, than about people doing things LOTS of people do and just some people being targeted for it, or not being able to get out of it because they don't have the money...

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