UN Report on Systemic Racism Calls for Accountability, Redress for Victims 

A U.N. report examining systemic racism suffered by people of African descent is calling for an end to impunity for human rights violations by law enforcement, and for accountability and compensation for the victims. The report by the U.N. high commissioner for human rights was mandated by the Human Rights Council in June 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. The report cites the case of George Floyd, a Black man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis, as a moment of reckoning, not only for the United States, but other nations.FILE – Black Lives Matter protesters march through Portland, Ore. after rallying at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.It says the mobilization of movements, such as “Black Lives Matter” and the proliferation of demands for racial justice have pushed this issue to the forefront of the political agenda in many countries.  U.N. investigators examined more than 190 cases of deaths at the hands of law enforcement officials, most in the United States but also in numerous countries across South America and Europe. Mona Rishmawi is chief of the U.N. Human Rights Office Rule of Law, Equality & Non-Discrimination Branch. She says investigators found striking similarities and patterns in all countries, including in the difficulties faced by families in accessing justice. “Here we found worrying trends of associating Blackness with criminality and other biases that shape the interactions of people of African descent with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Our research shows that in a number of states, people of African descent are particularly vulnerable to racial profiling,” she said.Rishmawi says this is used as a basis for discriminatory identity checks, stops and searches, and violence, including serious injury and deaths.  She says the role of racial discrimination, stereotypes and institutional bias are rarely considered when these deaths are investigated and brought before a court. She notes the killing of George Floyd is a rare exception in which anyone has been held accountable. Rishmawi says investigators have received many credible allegations about unnecessary and disproportionate use of force during anti-racism protests. “We are particularly worried about the use of military and militarized tactics in responding to protests in some states and the use of surveillance tools and other technologies to monitor protests,” she said. “The militarization of the police coupled with ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ against the media made the reporting environment ‘inherently more dangerous’ for journalists.” The report says the voices of people of African descent and those who stand up against racism must be heard and their concerns acted on. High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet is calling on states to show stronger political will to accelerate action for racial justice, redress, and equality through specific, time-bound concrete actions.