Pompeo slams UN rights body over anti-Black racism report

Pompeo slams UN rights body over anti-Black racism report sparked by George Floyd's death
3 min read
The US Secretary of State called the UN rights body commissioning a report on racism following the death of African American George Floyd a 'new low'.
Pompeo called the UN body a 'haven for dictators' [Getty]
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the decision by the UN's top human rights body to commission a report on policing and race amid international protests spurred by George Floyd's death “marks a new low” and confirmed the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council in 2018.

The council agreed on Friday in Geneva to commission a UN report on systemic racism and discrimination against Black people while stopping short of ordering a more intensive investigation singling out the United States.

Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died last month after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

In response, Pompeo on Saturday described the Human Rights Council as “a haven for dictators and the democracies that indulge them” and said the council should focus its attention elsewhere.

"If the Council were serious about protecting human rights, there are plenty of legitimate needs for its attention, such as the systemic racial disparities in places like Cuba, China, and Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement on Saturday.

Floyd's relatives, families of other victims of US police violence and hundreds of advocacy groups urged the Human Rights Council to take up the issue.

A human rights group based in the US, Human Rights First, countered Pompeo’s statement regarding Iran, saying that the council appointed an independent expert to monitor human rights in that country.

The Iran monitor’s Jan. 28 report expressed concern about deaths of protesters in detention, executions of under-age defendants, forced confessions and discrimination against minorities and women.

Instead, the resolution mentions historic racism in the US but only calls for a more generic report to be written by the UN human rights chief’s office and outside experts.The consensus resolution approved on Friday follows days of grappling over language after African nations backed away from their initial push for a commission of inquiry - the council’s most intrusive form of scrutiny - that would focus more on the US.

The aim is “to contribute to accountability and redress for victims” in the US and beyond, the resolution states.

Advocacy group Human Rights Watch said the measure fell far short of the level of scrutiny sought by hundreds of civil society organisations, but nonetheless set the stage for an unprecedented look at racism and police violence in the United States - over the efforts of US officials to avoid the council's attention - and showed even the most powerful countries could be held to account.

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