UN Human Rights Council to discuss "police brutality and violence against peaceful protests" in US, after request last week by Burkina Faso on behalf of 54 African countries.
The top UN human rights body will hold an urgent debate on allegations of "systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests" in the United States on Wednesday, a statement said on Monday.
The decision by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) followed a request last week by Burkina Faso on behalf of African countries, it said in the statement.
Burkina Faso's ambassador to the UN in Geneva last Friday sent Tichy-Fisslberger a letter on behalf of Africa's 54 countries calling for an urgent debate on "racially inspired human rights violations, police brutality against people of African descent and the violence against the peaceful protests that call for these injustices to stop."
That call came after Floyd's family, along with the families of other victims of police violence and over 600 NGOs this week called on the council to urgently address systemic racism and police impunity in the US.
"The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident," said the African group's letter made public by the United Nations.
#HRC43 has opened & starts w/ GD on item 5. It was decided that an urgent debate on the current racially inspired #HumanRights violations, systematic #racism, #PoliceBrutality & violence against peaceful protests to take place Wednesday, 17 June at 3 p.m. https://t.co/wUEEG9n2Bg pic.twitter.com/8SYNTgRThD— HRC SECRETARIAT (@UN_HRC) June 15, 2020
Systemic racism and police impunity
It was referring to the African American who died on May 25 under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer, igniting nationwide protests and demonstrations worldwide.
While Friday's letter called for a debate on racism around the globe, it in particular highlighted the situation in the United States.
"The protests the world is witnessing are a rejection of the fundamental racial inequality and discrimination that characterise life in the United States for black people, and other people of colour," it said.
Special debate agreed
US is not a member of the 47-member state forum in Geneva, having quit it two years ago alleging bias against its ally Israel.
As the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council resumed on Monday after breaking in March over the coronavirus pandemic, council president Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger proposed to hold the debate on Wednesday at 3:00 pm (1300 GMT).
"I can see no objections. It is therefore so decided," she said.
It is only the fifth time in the council's 14-year history that it has agreed to hold an "urgent debate," which is a special debate agreed upon within a regular session of the council.
"Many other cases of persons of African descent (have) faced the same fate because of their origin and police violence," Burkina Faso Ambassador Dieudonne Desire Sougouri told the council on Monday.
A number of countries had been expected to address Floyd's killing and concerns about police violence and racism in the United States during the resumed 43rd council session even without a special debate.
But since the deadline for tabling fresh resolutions during this session expired back in March, the extraordinary debate offers the only opportunity to propose a fresh resolution for concrete actions.