UN human rights body to debate ‘systemic racism, police brutality’ in US

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The United Nations’s Human Rights Council said on Monday that it will debate systemic racism and police brutality in the U.S. this week following a request on behalf of African nations.

Burkina Faso led the request on behalf of all 54 African nations, specifically citing the case of George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died in police custody after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, sparking weeks of ongoing international protests.

“Structural racism and police violence are issues, which are commonly raised by states and civil society at meetings of the council, as are unlawful killings by police and racial bias in policing,” U.N. human rights spokesman Rolando Gomez told Voice of America. “And, the aim, of course, is to prevent such abhorrent acts.”

“The tragic events of 25 May in Minneapolis that led to the death of George Floyd led to protests around the world in protest of injustice and police brutality that persons of African descent face on a daily basis in many regions of the world,” Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the U.N., Dieudonné W. Désiré Sougouri, said in the formal urgent debate request. “The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident. Many other cases of persons of African descent having faced the same fate because of the origin and police violence exist.”

The U.S. is not a member of the 47-nation council, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announcing in 2018 that the U.S. would withdraw over its handling of Israel.

Separately, a group of U.N. leaders who are either African or of African descent, including World Health Organization Head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, signed a statement calling for world leaders to “go beyond and do more.”

“We owe it to George Floyd and to all victims of racial discrimination and police brutality to dismantle racist institutions,” the statement reads. “As leaders in the multilateral system, we believe it is incumbent upon us to speak for those whose voices have been silenced, and advocate for effective responses that would contribute to fight systemic racism, a global scourge that has been perpetuated over centuries.”

Tags Black Lives Matter Burkina Faso George Floyd George Floyd protests Mike Pompeo Nikki Haley Racism United Nations United Nations Human Rights Council

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