UN to US: Do More Against Racism
By ELIANE ENGELER
The Associated Press
Thursday, February 21, 2008; 4:48 PM
GENEVA -- U.N. human rights experts told the United States on Thursday to step up efforts to combat racial discrimination in the detention of African-Americans and Hispanics and questioned the treatment of illegal immigrants.
U.S. Ambassador Warren W. Tichenor said United States had made great strides toward equality but he conceded that "we still have significant work to do."
The United States was making its first appearance since 2001 before the experts of the U.N. panel on the elimination of racial discrimination. The 18 independent experts, who are unpaid, periodically review the performance of countries that have signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, who led the questioning, said there was overwhelming evidence of police brutality against African-Americans, Arabs and Muslims, Hispanics and other minority groups.
"You need to intensify your efforts at all levels to combat this very alarming phenomenon," Sicilianos, a Greek lawyer on the panel, told the U.S. delegation.
Grace Chung Becker, a U.S. assistant attorney general, told the committee that U.S. law prohibits the use of excessive force by any law enforcement officer against any individual in the United States. The offenders can be punished under criminal law or the victims can bring a civil lawsuit, she said.
Sicilianos said he was pleased that the United States was committed to protect the rights of foreigners regardless of their immigration status, but he said there were numerous failures in living up to its commitments.
"Especially since 9/11, immigrants and refugee communities in the United States have been subjected ... to a range of systematic human rights violations directed by the federal government, local county and state governments, law enforcement agents, employers and private actors," he said.
Sicilianos said he based the accusation on evidence submitted by a large coalition of American human rights groups.
Several other experts on the panel said people of color suffer from racial profiling _ being stopped, searched and arrested by police much more than whites are.
"Especially Muslims are suffering from this, and measures are necessary to prevent this from continuing," said Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana Ewomsan, a human rights expert from Togo.
Becker noted that President Bush has said racial profiling "is wrong and we will end it in America."
"The current administration was the first to issue racial profiling guidelines for federal law enforcement officers," she added.
As one of the 173 countries which have ratified the treaty, the United States was taking its turn before the committee this week. A second session is planned for Friday. The United States has submitted a 119-page report to the panel.
for link to Washington Post article click the title of this post