Various human rights groups in Geneva noted on Wednesday that the United States is responsible for “ongoing and systematic” racial discrimination throughout all aspects of society, from Guantanamo Bay to the justice and education systems. “The government of the United States does not react to permanent and systematic racial discrimination problems” despite ratifying the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CEDR) in 1994, according to Ajamu Baraka, the executive director of the U.S. Human Rights Network (USHRN).
“Unfortunately, we are finding that the government has not complied with its obligations since 1994² Baraka said to reporters, specifying the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the African-American population in New Orleans, treatment of immigrant workers, police brutality and housing discrimination. “These issues escaped examination” by the government. The American Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will publish its evaluation of Washington’s efforts later this week. USHRN and other organizations, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), prepared their own evaluations, stressing serious cases of racial discrimination.
HRW stated that different legal standards applied to non-American citizens held in Guantanamo. “American policies are holding foreigners without judicial process and their arrests are based on discriminatory practices, violating CEDR,” said Alison Parker, an HRW Deputy Director of the United States Division. She also stated that American citizens were transferred from Guantanamo to a standard U.S. justice system, which grants them more rights. She also mentioned disproportionate judicial proceedings against African-Americans and other minorities, mainly life sentences of youth offenders charged with murder without the possibility of parole.
Experts noted that administrations led by both democrats and republicans have failed to apply the Convention to its full extent since 1994, but hope that the upcoming presidential elections in November will bring some progress on these issues.