ACLU: New Report a Step Forward, but U.S. Still Needs National Plan of Action to Address Racism

June 14, 2013 2:00 pm

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WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the State Department submitted a major report to a U.N. committee on the state of racial discrimination in the U.S.

The report was submitted to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which oversees compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a treaty ratified by the U.S. in 1994.

“With its submission of this report, the Obama administration makes the critically important point of acknowledging that racial discrimination still persists in the U.S.,” said Chandra Bhatnagar, senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Human Rights Program. “However, the report glosses over how certain federal policies, such as those allowing state and local involvement in immigration enforcement, have been vehicles to enable racial discrimination to occur. Further, the report doesn’t address the pressing need for a national plan of action to end all forms of racial discrimination, which many other countries have already created.”

“This report represents an important step forward by its coordinator, the Equality Working Group, a robust collaboration of several federal agencies that work on domestic implementation of our international human rights obligations and commitments relating to non-discrimination and equal opportunity,” added Deborah J. Vagins, senior legislative counsel at the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

All levels of U.S. government are required to comply with ICERD’s provisions, which require countries to review national, state-wide and local policies and to amend or repeal laws and regulations that create or perpetuate racial discrimination. The report released yesterday does not report on state and local government compliance with the treaty, a significant shortcoming.

The ACLU eagerly awaits review of this report before the committee and will be working on a comprehensive analysis of it that will be made public in advance of this review.

The report is available here:

The U.S. Human Rights Network’s coalition letter on a national action plan for racial justice is here:

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