UN Committee on Racial Discrimination confirms US has race problems Bad Timing For Bush:
"This acknowledgment couldn't have come at a worse time for Bush; it cuts the legs out
from under his threats to boycott the World Conference Against Racism"
August 15, 2001
(Washington, DC) - In a striking move declaring what people of color
in the United States have known for centuries, eighteen experts of the
United Nations declared that the United States has a race problem.
Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney praised a report released late Monday in
which a UN body slammed the record of the United States on racism, suggesting
a halt to the death penalty and immediate moves to stamp out police brutality.
The body of 18 independent experts noted "a disturbing correlation between race,
both of the victim and the defendant, and the imposition of the death penalty" in America.
In addition, the Committee noted the high incarceration rate for African
Americans and Hispanics. According to human rights experts, some fifty-four
percent of people currently on death row in the United States are minorities
although minorities comprise a significantly smaller percentage of the US population.
"Last year the United States executed twenty-six African American men.
We started this year by executing a mentally retarded black woman. We know that
many on death row today are not guilty of the crimes they have been convicted of
and sadly, I'm sure that some of the executed were not guilty either. The report
reveals facts which are not a surprise to the victims of discrimination living in
the United States," intoned McKinney. "Even the United States Justice Department
confirms that blacks are more likely to be pulled over for traffic stops, arrested
and convicted, and serve longer sentences for offenses than their white counterparts,"
Blacks have long sought to have their condition evaluated by independent panels
outside the US because justice for blacks in the US has been too rare a commodity.
W.E.B. DuBois first raised the issue of the status of African Americans in 1947 in
his "Petition on Behalf of Negroes." Later, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and others
have sought to have the plight of African Americans heard by international human
rights arbiters outside this country. Paul Robeson issued the first call for
reparations in a 1951 plea to the United Nations charging genocide against African
Americans. Even black farmers have sought justice outside the United States because
justice inside the United States was not available to them.
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also noted "with concern
the incidents of police violence and brutality, including cases of deaths, which
affected minority groups and foreigners in particular.''
This report comes at a time when the Bush Administration is considering a boycott
of the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related
Intolerance (WCAR), which will be held in Durban, South Africa from August 31st to
September 7th, 2001.
The United States, which only ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Racial Discrimination on 1994, is one of a number of countries being
examined by the committee whose hearings coincided with preparations for this
month's WCAR Conference.
Human Rights Watch recently issued a call for compensation for victims of slavery
and segregation. "It is obvious that we live with the effects of slavery every day.
The disparity in life expectancy, education, health care; in every quality of life
index it is there and attributable to racism undealt with since slavery," stated
McKinney. "Unfortunately, even segregation isn't something of the distant past.
Recent Census Bureau reports indicate that African Americans remain geographically
concentrated where we live and where our children are educated," she added.