African countries on Friday called on the United Nation Human Rights Council to urgently debate racism and police impunity, amid growing protests over George Floyd’s death in the United States and other parts of the world.
Burkina Faso’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva wrote the letter on behalf of the 54 African countries, asking the UN’s top human rights body 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.”
The letter requests for the debate to be held next week when the council’s 43rd session resumes, after being stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The appeal comes after Floyd’s family, relatives of other victims of police brutality, and nearly 600 NGOs urged the council to urgently address the issue of systemic racism and police violence.
For such a request to be considered by the council, it needs to be backed by at least one state.
With the call now coming from a large group of countries, “that increases the chances” it will take place, a council spokesperson told AFP.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis on May 25 after a white officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes.
The officer has since been charged with murder.
“Sadly, the fates of many other victims attracted no attention, as they were not captured on social media for all to see,” Ambassador Dieudonne Desire Sougouri wrote in the letter to the council.
Floyd’s death, which was caught on video, has sparked unrest in the US and around the world.
“The protests the world is witnessing are a rejection of the fundamental racial inequality and discrimination that characterize life in the United States for black people, and other people of coloUr,” the letter said.
Council President Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger is expected to announce a proposed day for the debate on Monday. Unless there are any objections, the debate is likely to go ahead.