USA's record on avoiding race discrimination

With the USA’s record on racial discrimination coming under UN scrutiny in Geneva on 21 and 22 February, Amnesty International is making available its own briefing to the UN on the issue.

Tomorrow and Friday the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is scheduled to consider the USA’s combined fourth, fifth and sixth periodic reports describing how it complies with its treaty obligations to guarantee protection against discrimination on the basis of race, colour, ethnicity or nationality.

The 20-page briefing ( www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR51/178/2007 ) was originally submitted to the Committee in November, highlighting concerns since consideration of the USA’s initial report in 2001. Despite the US Constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the law, Amnesty International’s briefing points out that systemic discrimination exists in many areas, including:

* Racial profiling in law enforcement

* Discriminatory treatment of foreign nationals detained in the aftermath of the attacks on 11 September 2001

* The disproportionate number of racial and ethnic minorities among the US prison population

* Racial disparities in the juvenile justice system and in the administration of the death penalty

Amnesty also expresses concern about discriminatory treatment of non-US nationals held by the US military in Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere in the “war on terror”. It included concerns about how foreign nationals designated “unlawful enemy combatants” can be subjected to unfair military commissions, operating under a lower standard of justice than US citizens accused of similar crimes.

The briefing expresses further concerns about barriers to accessing justice faced by Native American and Alaska Native American Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights who’ve suffered disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence, and about the treatment of displaced African American residents of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

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