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Racial discrimination in US cause of concern: UN panel

Geneva: The United Nations’ Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Friday said that racial and ethnic discrimination in the US remain a major cause of concern.

In its concluding observation on the periodic report of the US on its implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the committee expressed grave concerns over the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials in the US, Xinhua reported.

Serious problems persisted in all areas of life, including school segregation, access to health care and housing, with minorities — particularly African-Americans — continuing to be disproportionately arrested and sentenced, said the body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the convention by its state parties.

Noureddine Amir, member of the committee, highlighted the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against racial and ethnic minorities, warning it was as “an ongoing issue of concern”, particularly in light of the recent shooting event in Ferguson, Missouri.

Unarmed 18-year-old African-American Michael Brown was shot dead earlier this month by a white police officer in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb in the US state of Missouri, which prompted nationwide protests and questioning of the US racial divide. Protests escalated into days of rioting.

“This is not an isolated event, (and) it illustrates bigger problems in the United States such as racial bias among law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials,” Amir told reporters.

The committee urged US authorities to promptly and effectively investigate every case of excessive use of force, ensuring the alleged perpetrator were prosecuted, and the victims and their families were adequately compensated.

“The United States should undertake concrete and comprehensive measures to address the root causes and avoid any future repetition of such tragic incidents,” Amir said.

The human rights expert also drew attention to the high level of gun violence in the US, saying the disproportionately affects members of racial and ethnic minorities, particularly African-Americans.

He urged US authorities to take effective legislative and policy measures to fulfill its obligation to protect the right to life and to reduce gun violence.