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43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council: Urgent Debate on racism / police violence

17 June 2020

Thank you Mr President, Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative and the Coalition of African Lesbians.

Black Lives Matter. We make this statement in solidarity with all people of African-descent in the United States of America who are victims of police brutality and murder.  In 2019 the police in the United States of America killed 1,098 people. 24% of those people killed were black despite black people making up only 13% of the population. Black people are 3 times more likely to be killed by police than white people, and they are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed compared to white people. 99% of the killings by police are done with impunity.

These statistics highlight the disproportionate violence against black people by American law enforcement. The police use excessive and often unnecessary violence to subdue black people while they are in custody. The brutality used by police against black people in the United States of America, is tantamount to torture.

As we call attention to the racist brutal violence of American law enforcement, it is important too to call out violence against those who have been protesting the death of George Floyd and all those who have lost lives and limbs as they exercise their right to protest. We urge the US to undertake decisive actions to address the continuing legacy of slavery, and the persistent systemic, economic, social and political inequalities affecting the lives of black people. The US should heed the call of its citizens to defund the police and reallocate funds to neglected areas such as public health, housing and education. We also call for the creation of an independent investigation and accountability mechanism that focuses on the issues of systemic racism and police killings in the US.

We are deeply concerned at the tone of the statements made by Global North States during the Urgent Debate yesterday. Black people know the insidious nature of racism to hide in plain sight and see the tactic of the co-option of liberation language as lip service . History has taught us that the dismantling of racial discrimination has only ever been achieved through intentional and direct action.

We also call on States that are following the example of the US in increasing budgetary expenditure for guns, ammunition and law enforcement training exchange programmes, that lead to further exportation of violence in the name of peace, to invest in long-term social, economical and environmental stability.

Furthermore, we are also extremely concerned that the very people who should be part of this debate, people of color from civil society organisations, are and will be unable to participate in the Council 43rd and 44th session. While we acknowledge that measures must be applied to protect the health of all in this time of pandemic, this debate illustrates clearly how limitations to participation in the HRC silences the voices of the very people who should be heard. 

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