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Falling further behind on race relations

Freddie Allen | 8/22/2014, 9:09 p.m.
Twenty years after signing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the United States continues ...
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, talks about the 2014 Voting Rights Amendment Act at a press conference on Capitol Hill. Freddie Allen

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – Twenty years after signing the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the United States continues to struggle with racial disparities in every major sector of American society.

A coalition of American civil and human rights groups, submitted a report titled, Falling Further Behind: Combating Racial Discrimination in America, to the Committee on Ending Racial Discrimination that governs the international convention. The report detailed myriad disparities that still exist in the criminal justice system, education, voting, housing and immigration.

CERD is an independent panel of experts “that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by its state parties,” according to the website for the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Countries that ratify the CERD treaty must review federal, state and local laws, and revise or repeal policies that perpetuate racial discrimination.

The shooting death of another unarmed Black teenager by a police officer, this time in Ferguson, Missouri, has garnered international interest, including the attention of CERD that met recently in Geneva, Switzerland.

“The death of Michael Brown, has not only shocked the conscience of the nation, it has shocked the conscience of the world,” said Wade Henderson, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 organizations devoted to the promotion and protection of civil and human rights. “There seems to be a pattern of excessive use of force by some police officials in communities around the country, which has raised serious concerns about the level of training these officers have received in the course of the regular preparation to become police officers and the oversight of exercised by individual departments on the behavior of individual officers.”

Henderson, former Washington bureau director of the NAACP, said that the Justice Department should review and prosecute, where appropriate, the cases in which law enforcement used excessive force and deadly force against unarmed individuals and suggested cutting federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies that continue to violate civil and human rights of the people that they have sworn to protect.

“The world is watching the United States’ response to these tragedies and we must take swift action to release new federal guidance that will prohibit the use of racial ethnic and religious profiling by law enforcement,” Henderson said. “The Department of Justice should review and prosecute where appropriate the cases, in which law enforcement used excessive force and deadly force against unarmed individuals and when appropriate cut federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies that continue to violate these principals.

“By taking the necessary steps to address these issues we can and must halt this terrible trend.”

Henderson said that the United States ratified the international treaty in 1994 and joined the world community in its obligation under the treaty to take steps to reduce racial discrimination and disparities within our borders.

Despite the progress that has been made since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. seems at times to be losing ground, especially when it comes to the criminal justice system.