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UN human rights chief says George Floyd's killing emblematic of excessive force against people of color
update:June 18,2020
GENEVA, June 18,2020 -- United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday that George Floyd's killing has become emblematic of the excessive use of disproportionate force by law enforcement against people of African descent, against people of color, against indigenous people and racial and ethnic minorities in countries across the globe.
"Since the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis last month, a wave of massive protests has surged forward, not only across every state in the United States but also in dozens of countries in Europe and all around the world," Bachelet said in an urgent debate on the "current racially inspired human rights violations, systematic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful protests" of the 43rd Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council.
She said the protests are the culmination of many generations of pain and struggles for equality, "we owe it to those who have gone before, as well as those to come, to seize this moment to demand fundamental change."
"We need decisive action across the world, not only to reform or re-imagine institutions and law enforcement agencies, but to address pervasive racism that corrodes institutions, entrenches inequality and underlies so many violations of human rights," said Bachelet.
On May 25, Floyd, a 46-year-old African American, was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. A white police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down, begging for his life and repeatedly saying "I can't breathe". Videos from security cameras and made by witnesses later became public.
Whether or not they are filmed and go viral on social media, any acts of misconduct by police personnel should be met with immediate investigation, sanction or prosecution, based on international standards, according to Bachelet.
Systemic racial discrimination extends beyond any expression of individual hatred. It results from bias in multiple systems and institutions of public policy, which separately and together perpetuate and reinforce barriers to equality, she said.
From poor health care to inadequate education, limited job advancement, refusals of housing and mortgage loans, ill-treatment by officials, practical restrictions on the right to vote and over-incarceration, racial discrimination harms millions of people, Bachelet said.
"We need schools and universities that are free of bias. We need economies that give truly equal opportunities and fair treatment to all. We need political institutions that are more responsive and inclusive. We need justice systems which are truly just," Bachelet said.
"We should go beyond existing recommendations. Time is of the essence. Patience has run out. Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The lives of people of color matter. All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights," she concluded.
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