NEW YORK - A report examining the state of human rights of people of African descent in the United States was presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council today. The U.N. Working Group on the Rights of People of African Descent reported that, while the U.S. government has taken some steps to promote the rights of people of African descent, much more needs to be done to bring the U.S. into compliance with international treaty obligations. The international group of experts visited the United States last January at the invitation of the U.S. government, meeting with local, state and federal officials and human and civil rights groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and conducting a thorough examination of laws and policies and their impact on people of African descent.
According to the working group's report, "due partially to the legacy of slavery, racism and discrimination, African Americans have had economic, social and educational disadvantages, as well as challenges to the enjoyment of basic human rights." The report noted that people of African descent in the U.S. continue to face unequal access to quality education, electoral disenfranchisement and discrimination in the justice and legal systems, among other issues.
The ACLU called on the Obama administration to implement the working group's recommendations, including by reforming the existing U.S. Commission on Civil Rights into a civil and human rights commission that oversees compliance with human rights treaty obligations.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
"This report serves as both a marker of our achievements and a reminder of our failures when it comes to protecting the rights of people of African descent. In order to lead by example, it is imperative that the U.S. establish monitoring mechanisms to uphold civil and human rights in the U.S. The Obama administration should work with Congress to reform the existing U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to include a mandate to monitor our human rights treaty obligations."
The following can be attributed to Chandra Bhatnagar, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program:
"As the working group report shows, there are still many obstacles to equality facing people, and especially children, of African descent in the United States. The U.S. government should take heed of the group's important recommendations and bring the U.S. into compliance with our international treaty obligations, including taking steps to outlaw racial discrimination and protect the rights of children."
The working group report is available online at: www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/racism/groups/african/docs/A-HRC-15-18.pdf