Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

UN Experts Urge the U.S. to Address Legacies of the Past, Police Impunity and 'Crisis of Racial Injustice'

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

UN Experts Urge the U.S. to Address Legacies of the Past, Police Impunity and 'Crisis of Racial Injustice'

Article excerpt

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29 January 2016 -- The legacy of slavery, post-Reconstruction 'Jim Crow' laws and racial subordination in the United States remains a "serious challenge" as there has been no real commitment to recognition and reparations for people of African descent, a United Nations expert panel said today in Washington D.C., at the end of its second official visit to the country.

"Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights of African Americans today," said human rights expert Mireille Fanon Mendes France (daughter of Frantz Fanon), who currently heads the group of experts, who added that: "We understand these changes are part of a larger effort to pass criminal justice reforms now pending in Congress, and a lot more needs to be done."

Indeed, the experts found that contemporary police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the "racial terror and lynching" of the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency, they said.

From 9 to 29 January, a delegation of the UN Working Group of experts on people of African descent visited Washington D.C., Baltimore, Jackson, Mississippi, Chicago, and New York City, to address current concerns, and assess progress made in the fight against racial discrimination, 'Afrophobia,' xenophobia, and protecting and promoting the human rights of African-Americans.

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, visiting delegation, which also included human rights experts Sabelo Gumedze and Ricardo A. Sunga III, welcomed various efforts undertaken by the government to address the issue, like a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in the federal prison system announced this week.

The Group noted that the U.S. has a growing human rights movement which has successful advocated for social change. Following the epidemic of racial violence by the police, civil society networks calling for justice together with other activists are strongly advocating for legal and policy reforms and community control over policing and other areas which directly affect African Americans.

However, the experts expressed serious concerns about the police killings, the presence of police in schools, and violence targeting the African American community with impunity, and racial bias in the criminal justice system, mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty which disproportionately affects African Americans. …

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