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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," continued McKinney.

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.

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