Fact-finding mission to US looks at human rights condition of African Americans

The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is carrying out a fact-finding mission into the human rights situation of African Americans in the United States.

During the mission the experts will visit several US cities to assess progress made in combating racial discrimination and xenophobia, and protecting and promoting the human rights of African Americans.

“We will gather first-hand information about the current human rights situation of African Americans and follow up on the recommendations to fight racism we made during our last visit to the country in 2010,” said Mireille Fanon Mendes-France, who heads the expert panel.

The United States has recently experienced a series of acts of racial violence against the black community that have led to the Black Lives Matter movement.

During the 11-day mission, the experts will visit some cities where killings of African Americans by police have sparked protests calling for an end to impunity and equal justice. This includes Baltimore, where the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody generated weeks of protests. Experts will also visit Washington, D.C., Chicago, Jackson, Mississippi and New York City, New York. The experts will meet with government officials at the federal, state and local levels, as well as civil society organizations, academics and individuals.

The experts will hold a press conference at the end of the mission in Washington DC to share their preliminary findings and recommendations. A final report of their visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2016.

The WGPAD bases much of its work on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action and UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, which the US, along with 176 other countries, has ratified. The Working Group is also playing a leading role in advocating for states to take national action during the International Decade of People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development (2015 to 2024) and aims both to highlight the contribution of people of African descent to societies and strengthen national, regional and international cooperation to ensure the human rights of people of African descent are respected, promoted and fulfilled.

25 January 2016

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