Monday, May 19, 2008

UN Rapporteur to document racism in US


Racism and discrimination of Indigenous Peoples, migrants and women in US to be probed during UN Rapporteur visit

U.N. Independent Expert On Racism Begins Fact-Finding Mission In U.S.

Photo by Brenda Norrell/Mike Wilson, Tohono O'odham, points
to the places on the Tohono O'odham Nation where migrants have
died. At the Indigenous Peoples Border Summit of the Americas II in October, Wilson said, "No one should die for want of a drink of water." Wilson, who puts out water for migrants, stands next to many of his water jugs which were slashed by those who oppose his effort. Thousands of migrants have died along the US/Mexico border in search of a better life, as US corporations seize the land and water in Mexico and Central America. (Double click image to enlarge.)


WASHINGTON - Several national civil liberties and human rights groups today welcomed a fact-finding mission to the U.S. by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. The American Civil Liberties Union, Global Rights, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, the U.S. Human Rights Network, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Rights Working Group and the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty call on the U.S., state and local governments to fully cooperate with the special rapporteur.
"The visit of the special rapporteur is a critical opportunity to shed light on the pervasive and systemic problem of racism and discrimination in the United States," said Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. "In this election year, the eyes of the world will be turned toward America and its longstanding promise to end racial and ethnic inequalities."
At the invitation of the U.S. government, Special Rapporteur Doudou Diène is visiting the U.S. from May 18 to June 6 to examine issues of racism and racial discrimination in this country. Diène will visit Washington, New York, Chicago, Omaha, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico over the next three weeks where he will study incidents of contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the governmental measures in place to address them.
Diène is scheduled to meet with federal and local government officials as well as members of diverse communities across the United States and representatives of several non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
"The special rapporteur's visit presents a unique opportunity to give voice to those combating racism in the U.S. and will bring our concerns to the U.N. and its enforcement mechanisms," said Aubrey McCutcheon, Director of Programs at Global Rights. "I am confident Mr. Diène's visit will heighten our efforts towards eliminating racism and its vestiges."
In March 2008, the separate U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) issued a strongly worded critique of the United States' record on racial discrimination and urged the government to make sweeping reforms to policies affecting racial and ethnic minorities, women, immigrants and indigenous populations in the U.S. Several civil liberties and human rights organizations have urged the special rapporteur to critically examine the continuation of racism and racial discrimination in various areas identified by CERD and well documented in extensive NGO reports, including criminal justice, education, housing, juvenile justice, immigration policy, police brutality, hate crimes and racial profiling.
The mandate of the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance was established in 1993 by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and further extended by the U.N. Human Rights Council. The special rapporteur will submit a final report on the visit to the Human Rights Council in the spring of 2009.
More information about the special rapporteur's visit is available online at: and
More information about the CERD recommendations to the U.S. is available at: and
International Indian Treaty Council: Shadow Report

Alert from the International Indian Treaty Council, which is monitoring this situation:

Solidarity Statement Concerning Guatemalans in Detention after ICE Raid in Postville, Iowa

May 14, 2008
By Amalia Anderson, Carlos Ariel, Axel Fuentes, Reginaldo Haslett
Marroquín and Ana Nájera Mendoza,
"No one should be subjected to arbitrary arrests, detention or exile." Article 9, Universal Declaration of Human Rights “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.”
Article 9, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
As Guatemalans (by birth and by family origin) living in the United States we strongly condemn the Postville, Iowa raid--the largest single-site enforcement operation of its kind in the history of the United States. Of the390 workers reportedly detained, nearly three hundred are from Guatemala. According to statistics from the United Nations, over 125 million people throughout the world live and work outside their countries of origin. Human migration is a global phenomenon fueled by war, persecution, economic and social inequality, environmental disaster, and poverty. International migration will continue until the underlying causes forcing people from their homelands are eliminated. As Guatemalans, we are too familiar with Human Rights violations and their lasting effects. During our country’s 36-year long civil war: 200,000 people were killed or disappeared and as many as 1.5 million people were displaced internally or forced to flee the country. U.S. funding and training underwrote the war – leaving the country in shambles and forcing many to leave. Those of us able to publicly sign this letter and our brothers and sisters sitting now in detention centers and unable to sign this letter, came to this
country fleeing the effects of the U.S. funded, civil war. As over three hundred Guatemalans now sit in detention in Iowa, we ask you to grieve with us and protest the obvious irony.
According to the U.S. Constitution, all people residing in the United States, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to due process of law. The United States is committed to principles of democracy and fairness, yet hundreds of people are detained--frequently without access to counsel and without contact from their families. Many are terrified at the possibility of being returned to a home they may no longer know, or where they will be unable to earn a living wage. In the case of Guatemala, we must not forget the additional challenges of returning to a country devastated by decades of civil war. The U.S. policy of detaining and deporting people does not address these realities. The recent Postville Raids raises questions about the continued role the United States government plays in the lives of Guatemalans. Unlike the war years, however, we now have the opportunity to ensure that core U.S. values of democracy and fairness prevail! On behalf of our brothers and sisters in detention—we call
for transparent, fair and humane treatment in accordance with our U.S. constitutional norms of due process and equal protection. We believe that all human beings in this country have a right to be treated with dignity and respect, even in situations of detention and arrest. Though nothing can undo the destruction caused by the civil war in Guatemala, we are currently presented with an opportunity to stand up and not allow the legacy of our government’s past to continue in the present and the future. Fellow Guatemalans, join us!
For more information, or to add your name please contact:
Regi Marroquín:
amalia anderson: 651-269-1781

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