by Dayo Laniyan
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has interrogated US officials in Geneva over many different issues on Wednesday, including the discrimination of minorities at different level of the criminal justice system, unequal education access and harsh treatment of non-citizens.
The committee has been reviewing several countries throughout the world, starting with El Salvador on August 12-13, The USA for the 13th to 14th and is now currently reviewing Peru today.
However, there has been particular interest in the reviewing of the USA, due to the fatal shooting of the 18 year old black teenager, Michael Brown in Ferguson.
Committee vice chairman Noureddine Amir talked particularly on the plight of African Americans, who although they make up 13% of the US population, also account for 50% of homicide victims. He particularly lamented the “reports of abusive conduct and excessive use of forced by law enforcement agents against persons belonging to ethnic or racial minorities.”
“I understand that these disparities arise from factors such as subconscious racial bias in shootings, the proliferation of Stand Your Ground laws and the existence of predominantly African American and economically depressed neighbourhoods with escalated levels of violence.” He said.
The U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper, himself a Native American and leading the 30-member delegation defended his country, describing it as a “vibrant, multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural democracy.”
“Thirty years ago, the idea of having an African American president would not have seemed possible. Today, its reality.”
One of the delegation members William Bell, the black mayor of Birmingham, Alabama also said that progress has been made since he was born in what was once the segregated South.
“I’am a direct result of the initiative that was taken by our federal government to assure that all our citizens be treated fairly and equally,” he said.
The committee review of the United States ended on Thursday and they the findings will be published on August 29th. Currently the committee is reviewing Peru, moving on to Cameroon, Iraq, Japan and Estonia.