The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, ACLU, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;
Janvieve Williams, US Human Rights Network, (404) 610-2807;
Monique Harden, Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, (504) 919-4590;

Human Rights Groups Decry Bush Administration's Whitewash Report on Racial Discrimination in United States

Groups Call on Obama Administration To Implement Recommendations by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination


Bush administration's last-minute report to the United Nations
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was grossly
inadequate and full of omissions, according to a coalition of human
rights organizations. Instead of reporting on its implementation of
recommendations issued by the Committee a year ago, the government
yesterday submitted a report that attempts to whitewash the ongoing
racial discrimination suffered by people of color in the United States.

"The U.S. government's report fails
to address the persistence of structural racism and inequality in this
country, such as the continuing widespread racial and ethnic profiling
of Muslim and Arab Americans and people of South Asian descent after
9/11," said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program.
"President-elect Obama can signal a departure from the policies of the
Bush administration by taking a fresh look at the Committee
recommendations and implementing vigorous and proactive measures
against racial and ethnic discrimination."

The Committee is an independent
group of experts that oversees compliance with the International
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
(CERD), which the U.S. signed and ratified in 1994. In March 2008, the
Committee issued a strongly worded critique of the U.S. record on
racial discrimination and recommendations for U.S. compliance with the
CERD treaty. Governments are expected to implement the Committee's
recommendations, and yesterday's report was the U.S. government's
one-year follow up.

According to the human rights
coalition, the Bush administration's report glosses over significant
issues of racial inequality during his tenure, including the post-9/11
racial profiling of Muslims and people of Arab and South Asian descent;
the denial of adequate housing assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina; the disproportionate representation of African Americans and
Latinos among the 2,500 juveniles sentenced to life sentences without
parole; and the deprivation of Western Shoshone American Indians of
their ancestral lands.

"Instead of assisting people to
return home and recover as recommended by the U.N. committee, the Bush
administration's response to Hurricane Katrina is driving African
Americans out of our communities in violation of our human rights to
non-discrimination and adequate housing," said Monique Harden,
Co-Director and Attorney of Advocates for Environmental Human Rights in
New Orleans, Louisiana. "The Bush administration is delusional if it
thinks that people of color in the Gulf region believe we've been
helped by FEMA or any other federal agency."

"The refusal of the Bush
administration to correct the racism inherent in current U.S.
sentencing practices has resulted in a disproportionate number of
children of color being sentenced to life in prison without parole,"
said Deborah LaBelle, Director of the Juvenile Life Without Parole
Initiative. "It is a stain on the U.S. to be the only nation in the
world that commits the human rights violation of sentencing children to
life in prison, and the fact that it disproportionately affects
children of color is one more reason to end this unfair practice."

"It is important that
President-elect Obama takes action to ensure racial equality by
fulfilling the requirements of the CERD treaty," said Ajamu Baraka,
Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network. "We look forward to
working with the Obama administration to submit a corrected report and
a plan of action for implementing the recommendations of the U.N.

The Bush administration's final
report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination can be viewed online at:

The Committee's recommendations to the U.S. are available here:

An U.S. Human Rights Network shadow
report to the Committee on the state of racial discrimination in the
U.S. and other relevant documents can be found online here:

The ACLU's shadow report to the Committee and more information about CERD is available at: