USHRN Press Release on UNWGEPAD Visit

UN EXPERT GROUP ON PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT TO VISIT U.S. ON FACT FINDING MISSION

WILL VISIT FIVE CITIES INCLUDING WASHINGTON, D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2016

CONTACT: Jess St. Louis, USHRN, jstlouis@ushrnetwork.org, 404-588-9763 x104

WASHINGTON, DC – From January 19th to the 29th, the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is visiting the United States on a fact-finding mission concerning the human rights of people of African descent. This is the second visit from the Working Group, who also visited the U.S. in 2010. The Working Group experts will be meeting with government officials, non-governmental organizations, and people of African descent to examine and make recommendations on the situation of people of African descent in the United States. The Working Group visit comes before the United States undergoes a follow up review by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in April 2016.

The 10-day visit will begin and conclude in Washington, DC and will include visits to Baltimore, MD, Jackson, MS, Chicago, IL and New York City. In addition, the Working Group has requested access to detention facilities in order to hear the experiences of incarcerated people of African descent. "We are pleased to help coordinate the Working Group's meetings with civil society and heartened that the visit includes a stop in the oft-neglected South particularly as it relates to people of African descent" said Ejim Dike, Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network. "We hope that the Working Group experts will also focus specifically on people of African descent who experience multiple forms of discrimination due to their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, and/or disability status," she continued.

"We are very optimistic about the Working Group's visit to Washington DC,” states Pan African Community Action organizer Adwoa Masozi. “In this nation’s capital, affectionately known as Chocolate City because of its majority population of African descendants, exposing conditions like mass displacement from gentrification and the killing of Black people here by police helps highlight the inability of the government to provide redress.”

"We are in a moment where Chicago and the US government have an opportunity to be a model for the world and UN in respecting, protecting and fulfilling the economic, social, and cultural rights of African Descendants in America,“ said Willie JR Fleming, director of the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign. “Because of the public awareness and protests around black youth unemployment, homelessness, poverty, police killings of unarmed blacks, and daily crimes against humanity happening to blacks by government and their private contractors, we must recognize this opportunity given to us.”

Stephanie Franklin Esq., of the Franklin Law Group in Baltimore, comments: "The time is now! Human rights injustices have been occurring against Afro-descendant peoples in the US, Africa and throughout the Diaspora for centuries. From the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to colonization, African (Black) people's have suffered under white, European domination, colonization and consciousness. Police murders of Black people have heightened the international attention given to the US for its human rights violations, but it also exposed the US' lesser known human rights injustices - loss of culture, identity, psycho-social development, economic sovereignty and self-determination. The visit by the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent is timely - the world needs to know how Black people are treated in this country and around the world and the US must be held accountable by its global peers."

Three of the five Working Group experts will be participating in the visit: Ms. Mirelle Fanon-Mendes-France (Chairperson, France), Mr. Sabelo Gumedze (South Africa), and Ricardo A. Sunga (Phillipines). On January 29th, the working group will hold a press conference detailing their preliminary findings.  

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ABOUT THE US HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK

The US Human Rights Network (USHRN) is a national network of organizations and individuals working to strengthen a human rights movement and culture within the United States led by the people most directly impacted by human rights violations. It is a network of over 300 organizational members that is working to popularize human rights in communities across the United States in order to secure dignity and justice for all. www.ushrnetwork.org