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Human Rights Council Urged to Extend Mandate of UN Anti-Racism Experts

Global Phenomenon of Racial Profiling by Police Needs Continued UN Scrutiny

Protesters confront New York Police officers as part of a solidarity rally calling for justice over the death of George Floyd, in the Brooklyn, New York, June 3, 2020. © 2020 Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

At the upcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council, the mandate of the UN expert mechanism on racism in law enforcement comes up for renewal. Civil society groups and affected communities have united in calling for its mandate to be strengthened and renewed.

A UN Human Rights Council resolution in 2021 created the UN Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement (EMLER), following the brutal US police killing of George Floyd, in May 2020. The body promotes and protects the rights of Africans and people of African descent against excessive use of force and human rights violations by law enforcement officers, as part of the overarching fight for racial justice and equality.

Ahead of the Human Rights Council session, 65 civil society organizations and 112 people and families affected by racialized police violence around the world called upon Human Rights Council members and observer states to support the renewal of EMLER’s mandate.

During their three-year term, EMLER experts conducted visits to Sweden, the USBrazil, and Italy, and intervened in nine specific cases of police violence and excessive use of force by police. The experts adopted an intersectional approach to their mandate, demonstrating the multiple layers of discrimination faced by Black people. They emphasized continuous concern about governments’ failure to collect disaggregated data on race and ethnicity by police to inform policies that address racial disparities.

The global Black Lives Matter movement that emerged followed George Floyd’s killing led calls to end systemic racism within law enforcement. It has resulted in pressure on governments, and international institutions like the UN, to finally take action to fight structural racism, including within police forces, and to provide a path to accountability and redress for victims.

The Human Rights Council should lead on tackling colonial and slavery legacies as root causes of systemic racism. Ensuring EMLER experts can continue to do their work for another term would demonstrate its commitment to, and investment in, the protection of the lives of Africans and people of African descent.

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