U.N. rights chief urges U.S. to dismantle ‘systemic racism’ against Blacks

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Michelle Bachelet, United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights, present oral update on the activities of his Office and global human rights developments during 41st Session of the Human Rights Council. 24 june 2019. UN Photo/ Jean Marc Ferré

The head of human rights at the United Nations said on Monday, that racism against people of African descent is still systemic in many parts of the world, calling on countries to eliminate discrimination and make sure every law enforcement official is prosecuted for any illegal killings.

Giving a global report, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020, Michelle Bachelet emphasized that police brutality and poor use of racial profiling is deeply rooted in most part of North America, Europe and Latin America.

In her words, “I am calling on all states to stop denying, and start dismantling, racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent; and to confront past legacies and deliver redress,” she stated at the Human Rights Council.

A visitor looks at a memorial at the site of the arrest of George Floyd, who died while in police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. June 14, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller/File Photo
A visitor looks at a memorial at the site of the arrest of George Floyd, who died while in police custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S. June 14, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller/File Photo

In her report, she cited that at least 190 Africans and people of African descent worldwide have lost their lives in the hands of of law enforcement officials who nobody holds accountable for their wrongdoings.

It selected seven “emblematic cases”, including that of Floyd. A judge sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin on Friday to 22-1/2 years for his murder, video of which galvanised the national Black Lives Matter protest movement.

Other victims include an Afro-Brazilian boy, 14, shot dead in an anti-drug police operation in Sao Paulo in May 2020 and a Frenchman of Malian origin, 24, who died in police custody in July 2016.

“Racism and racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent are often rooted in policies and practices grounded in the debasement of the status of individuals in society,” the report said.

It added that this scourge is most common in countries where slavery, transatlantic trade of enslaved Africans, or colonialism has led to large communities of African descent.

“Systemic racism needs a systemic response,” Bachelet said. “There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice.”