U.S. "not above scrutiny", urges other states to be open on racism - statement


  • World
  • Wednesday, 17 Jun 2020

FILE PHOTO: Delegates attend the resuming of a United Nations Human Rights Council session before an urgent debate on allegations of "systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests" in the United States following the death of George Floyd druing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, June 15, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via REUTERS

GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States is grappling with racial discrimination and implementing police reforms after the killing of George Floyd, but other countries should show the same level of openness, a U.S. envoy said on Wednesday ahead of a U.N. debate on racism.

Andrew Bremberg, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, issued a statement hours before the Human Rights Council (HRC) was to open an urgent debate at the request of African countries on racism and "police brutality" against protesters.

Activists said that U.S. officials were heavily lobbying African countries to tone down a draft resolution being considered so that it would not name the United States or set up a U.N. commission of inquiry, but rather a fact-finding mission.

African countries had lobbied to set up a U.N. inquiry into "systemic racism" and "police brutality" in the United States and elsewhere, aiming to defend the rights of people of African descent, the initial draft resolution showed.

"As the world's leading advocate for human rights we call upon all governments to demonstrate the same level of transparency and accountability that the U.S. and our democratic partners practice," Bremberg said.

U.S. President Donald Trump has condemned the actions of police officers in Minneapolis, he said, referring to the city where Floyd died last month after being held under the knee of an officer, launching protests across the nation and the world.

Trump, facing criticism that his policies and inflammatory rhetoric have aggravated a racial divide in the United States, signed an order on Tuesday that he said would reform police practices even as he pressed for "law and order" nationwide.

"We are not above scrutiny; however, any HRC resolution on this topic that calls out countries by name should be inclusive, noting the many countries where racism is a problem," Bremberg said.

Bremberg, in a thinly veiled reference to ethnic Muslim Uighurs in China's Xinjiang province, said that another member state stood "accused of running concentration camps directed at an ethnic minority". In an apparent reference to Iran, he said that another state had murdered more than 1,500 peaceful protesters. Reuters reported in December that about 1,500 were killed in Iran during less than two weeks of unrest last year.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by William Maclean)

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