The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rachel Myers, (212) 549-2689 or 2666;
Mandy Simon, (202) 675-2312; 

U.N. Report Highlights Need For U.S. Civil And Human Rights Commission

U.S. Should Implement Working Group Recommendations, Says ACLU


report examining the state of human rights of people of African descent
in the United States was presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council
today. The U.N. Working Group on the Rights of People of African Descent
reported that, while the U.S. government has taken some steps to
promote the rights of people of African descent, much more needs to be
done to bring the U.S. into compliance with international treaty
obligations. The international group of experts visited the United
States last January at the invitation of the U.S. government, meeting
with local, state and federal officials and human and civil rights
groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and conducting a
thorough examination of laws and policies and their impact on people of
African descent.

According to the working group's
report, "due partially to the legacy of slavery, racism and
discrimination, African Americans have had economic, social and
educational disadvantages, as well as challenges to the enjoyment of
basic human rights." The report noted that people of African descent in
the U.S. continue to face unequal access to quality education, electoral
disenfranchisement and discrimination in the justice and legal systems,
among other issues.

The ACLU called on the Obama
administration to implement the working group's recommendations,
including by reforming the existing U.S. Commission on Civil Rights into
a civil and human rights commission that oversees compliance with human
rights treaty obligations.

The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

"This report serves as both a marker
of our achievements and a reminder of our failures when it comes to
protecting the rights of people of African descent. In order to lead by
example, it is imperative that the U.S. establish monitoring mechanisms
to uphold civil and human rights in the U.S. The Obama administration
should work with Congress to reform the existing U.S. Commission on
Civil Rights to include a mandate to monitor our human rights treaty

The following can be attributed to Chandra Bhatnagar, staff attorney with the ACLU Human Rights Program:

"As the working group report shows,
there are still many obstacles to equality facing people, and especially
children, of African descent in the United States. The U.S. government
should take heed of the group's important recommendations and bring the
U.S. into compliance with our international treaty obligations,
including taking steps to outlaw racial discrimination and protect the
rights of children."

The working group report 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.

(212) 549-2666