African states soften call for more scrutiny of racism in US

GENEVA (AP) — African countries on Thursday backed off their call for the U.N.’s top human rights body to launch its most intense scrutiny on the hot-button issue of police brutality and systemic racism in the United States, after American officials led back-channel talks to air opposition to the idea, diplomats said.

The Africa Group was reworking a draft resolution but had already cut out language calling on the Human Rights Council to set up a commission of inquiry — its most potent tool of scrutiny — to examine issues like systemic racism and abuse against “Africans and of people of African descent” in the U.S. and beyond, said the diplomats, who were part of the talks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Once tabled, the text was expected to come up for a vote on Friday or Monday, the council office said. The wording of the text could still change, diplomats cautioned.

The “outreaching” — as one European diplomat put it — by U.S. officials to other delegations on the issue comes even though the United States sits on the sidelines: The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the 47 member-state council in 2018, citing its alleged anti-Israel bias and acceptance of autocratic regimes with pock-marked rights records as members.

Advertisement

The council on Thursday wrapped up an urgent debate on racism and police brutality that was called in the wake of the George Floyd killing last month that sparked Black Lives Matter protests worldwide. But the draft resolution from the Africa Group was still being finalized, diplomats said.

Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee into his neck for several minutes as he pleaded for air and eventually stopped moving.

Copyright © 2020 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.