The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

U.N. Expert Calls On U.S. To Address Ongoing Issues Of Racism


United Nations special rapporteur on racism offered recommendations for
the U.S. to address ongoing issues of discrimination in a presentation
before the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) today. At the invitation
of the United States government, former special rapporteur Doudou Diene
toured the U.S. in May and June 2008 to conduct an analysis of ongoing
racism and ethnic discrimination. Today, current special rapporteur
Githu Muigai presented Diene's findings. This is the first session of
the UNHRC in which the U.S. is participating as a member.

"For the U.S. to lead by example, it
should heed the recommendations of this international expert and do
more to address ongoing issues of racism and ethnic discrimination in
this country," said Chandra Bhatnagar, staff attorney with the American
Civil Liberties Union Human Rights Program. "The rapporteur's report
offers the Obama administration a path forward on justice, equality and
human rights."

While in the U.S., the special
rapporteur met with representatives of the ACLU and other
non-governmental organizations, government officials, Supreme Court
Justice Stephen Breyer and members of local communities. The resulting
report highlights racism in the criminal justice system, the disparity
between sentencing for crack and powder cocaine, abuses facing
immigrant and African-American workers in the Gulf Coast in the wake of
Hurricane Katrina and the overall vulnerability of immigrant workers
and the need to meaningfully address the "school-to-prison pipeline."
The report also calls on Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act
(ERPA) and create a bipartisan commission to evaluate the on-going
fight against racism.

"The special rapporteur's visits in
Los Angeles with Arab, Sikh, Middle Eastern, South Asian and Native
American communities, and his review of the ACLU's recent work on
racial profiling at the Los Angeles Police Department, helped to inform
his conclusions about the ongoing and urgent need for racial justice
reform in this country," said Catherine Lhamon, Racial Justice Director
for the ACLU of Southern California. "We hope the rapporteur's report
will push us locally and as a nation to take concrete steps toward
creating meaningful justice for all Americans."

"Mr. Diene's report highlights the
persistence of racism in the U.S. It focuses on many issues that
permeate the lives of so many people who live and work in Florida,
including racial profiling, the lack of legal protections for immigrant
workers, the housing crisis and homelessness, and the school-to-prison
pipeline phenomenon," said Muslima Lewis, Director of the ACLU of
Florida's Racial Justice Project. "We are hopeful that the
recommendations in the rapporteur's report will be the impetus for
meaningful and systemic racial justice reform in Miami, Florida and the
entire country."

The rapporteur's report is available online at:

More information about the ACLU's work with the special rapporteur is available online at:

The American Civil Liberties Union was founded in 1920 and is our nation's guardian of liberty. The ACLU works in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

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