Panel Discussion on the Incompatibility between Democracy and Racism

31st Session of the Human Rights Council

As delivered by Keith Harper, US Ambassador to the Human Rights Council

Geneva, Switzerland
March 18, 2016

Thank you Mr. Vice President. The United States agrees that democracy and racism are incompatible. We believe that democracies have the tools necessary to combat racism at all levels – through elected representation and civil society activism. In the United States, civil society and peaceful protests have recently put a spotlight on allegations of racial discrimination, including in law enforcement and in the entertainment industry. We appreciate such criticism. Only with the contributions and support of public advocacy groups, human rights defenders, and the public at large, can all countries secure a free and equal society.

The United States is deeply concerned about these issues, and is committed to ensuring that every American benefits from a police force that protects and serves all members of the community. In February 2016, the U.S. Justice Department reached a comprehensive settlement agreement with the city of Miami and the Miami Police Department resolving the Department’s investigation of shootings by Miami police officers. The investigation’s findings, issued in July 2013, identified a pattern or practice of excessive use of force. Compliance with the settlement will be monitored by an independent reviewer. The city will implement comprehensive reforms designed to minimize officer-involved shootings, more effectively and quickly investigate such shootings if they occur, and restore public trust.

Between June and November 2015, the Justice Department conducted four regional trainings on hate crime prevention and prosecutions.

Question:

We have a question; can you give examples of positive steps taken in other nations to address public accountability?

Thank you.