UN slams US government's 'failure' to reject racist violence

United Nations
24 Aug 2017

A UN panel has strongly criticised the US government for its "failure at the highest political level" to unequivocally reject racist violent events in Charlottesville and throughout the country. On August 12, a car rammed into a crowd marching against a white supremacist rally in Virginia's Charlottesville, killing a woman and injuring 19 others. There were clashes between far-right nationalists and people who had come to protest against the occupation of a park housing a statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee. Following the clashes, a state of emergency was declared, and police and security forces were deployed in riot gears. Without naming President Donald Trump, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) said its members were "disturbed by the failure at the highest political level of the United States of America to unequivocally reject and condemn the racist violent events" in Charlottesville and suggested that this lack of action fuelled a "proliferation of racist discourse and incidents".
The committee called on the US government, high-level politicians and public officials to unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country. In a decision issued under its 'early warning and urgent action' procedure, the Committee, which monitors implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, said that "there should be no place in the world for racist white supremacist ideas or any similar ideologies that reject the core human rights principles of human dignity and equality". "We are alarmed by the racist demonstrations with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by white nationalists, neo- Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred," said CERD Chairperson Anastasia Crickley.
In addition to the criminal investigation of the individual who ploughed his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters and killed a woman, Heather Heyer, the UN experts asked the US authorities to undertake concrete measures "to address the root causes of the proliferation of such racist manifestations". "We call on the US government to investigate thoroughly the phenomenon of racial discrimination targeting in particular people of African descent, ethnic or ethno- religious minorities and migrants," Crickley said. The CERD also called on the US to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are not exercised with the aim of destroying or denying the rights and freedoms of others. It also asked the US to provide necessary guarantees so that such rights are not misused to promote racist hate speech and racist crimes.