U.N. sets up inquiry into racism after George Floyd death
GENEVA (Reuters) – The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday condemned discriminatory and violent policing after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month and ordered a report on “systemic racism” against people of African descent.
The 47-member state forum in Geneva unanimously adopted a resolution, brought by African countries. The mandate also asks U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to examine government responses to peaceful protests, including accusations of the excessive use of force, and deliver findings in a year’s time.
Philonise Floyd, the brother of the Black man whose death under the knee of a white officer roused world protests against racial injustice, urged the forum on Wednesday to investigate U.S. police brutality and racial discrimination.
Burkina Faso’s Ambassador Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri presented the African resolution on Friday, urging its adoption by consensus.
“It is important to show Africa…the Human Rights Council has heard the plight of African and people of African descent calling for equal treatment and application of equal rights for all,” he said.
The Africa group had made “concessions” in the negotiations with other countries that were “quite numerous”, he added.
The text was watered down during closed-door negotiations from an initial draft explicitly calling for a U.N. commission of inquiry on racism in the United States and elsewhere.
“By bullying other countries to water down what would have been an historic resolution and exempting itself from international investigation the United States is yet again turning its back on victims of police violence and Black people,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which led 600 activist groups in calling for the debate.
“We will not rest until U.S. is fully held accountable for police violence and structural racism,” he said.
The Trump administration, which quit the forum two years ago alleging bias against its ally Israel, made no immediate comment. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva Andrew Bremberg issued a statement on Wednesday that his country was “not above scrutiny” as it grappled with racial discrimination but was implementing police reforms after Floyd’s killing.
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