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UN committee ends session after reviewing anti-racism efforts in nine States

UN committee ends session after reviewing anti-racism efforts in nine States

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this morning concluded its 59th session in Geneva after reviewing efforts by nine Governments to implement an international anti-racism treaty.

During their three-week session, the 18 independent experts of the Committee considered reports by the Governments of Italy, China, Trinidad and Tobago, Cyprus, the United States, Sri Lanka, Viet Nam, Ukraine and Egypt to implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The panel also reviewed an overdue report by Liberia.

Among its many recommendations, the Committee suggested that Italy intensify its cooperation with other countries to reduce illegal immigration, criminal trafficking and the commercial exploitation of human beings. On China, the Committee urged a review of legislation and practices that might restrict the right to freedom of religion by people belonging to national minorities, particularly in the Muslim parts of Xinjiang and in Tibet.

After reviewing the report from Trinidad and Tobago, the Committee said it was concerned about the absence of specific measures prohibiting racist organizations. On Cyprus, the experts recommended that attention be given to the development of legislation outlawing racial discrimination in education and employment.

Assessing US anti-racism efforts, the Committee noted with concern the incidents of police brutality that affected particularly minority groups and foreigners. The Committee also noted with concern that the majority of prisoners in the US were members of minority groups, and that the incarceration rate was particularly high among African-Americans and Hispanics. It said that there was a disturbing correlation between race and the imposition of the death penalty, urging that the State party ensure, possibly by imposing a moratorium, that no death penalty was imposed as a result of racial bias.

Examining Sri Lanka's anti-racism efforts, the Committee expressed concern that a large number of Tamils of Indian origin and their descendants, particularly plantation workers, still had not been granted citizenship. On Viet Nam, the Committee sought information from the Government on the impact of its population planning policy on the enjoyment of reproductive rights by members of ethnic minorities.

Referring to reports of continuing discriminatory treatment of the Roma minority in the Ukraine, the experts said they were particularly concerned about reports of police brutality, including torture, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, against that group. They recommended that the State party take immediate steps to stop the abuses.

Expressing concern about Egypt's nationality law that prevents an Egyptian mother married to a foreigner from passing on her nationality to her children, the Committee said it was also concerned that children born to Egyptian mothers and foreign fathers were faced with discrimination in the field of education. On Liberia, the Committee expressed grave concern about the numerous instances of racial discrimination based on ethnicity, especially reports of extrajudicial killings, allegations of torture and rape, and the lack of accountability of perpetrators, including Government security forces, for those abuses.