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Racial Justice and Equity in the context of Law Enforcement (EMLER)
Statement As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor
October 5, 2023

Enhanced Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner and the International Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equity in the Context of Law Enforcement (EMLER)

Human Rights Council – 54th Session

Statement by the Delegation of the United States of America

As Delivered by Ambassador Michèle Taylor

Thank you, Mr. President.

Thank you, Madam Deputy High Commissioner and panelists for your sobering remarks.

And thank you to the Independent Experts for the report and Dr Keesee for your presentation today.  The United States strongly supports your mandate and we were honored to host your recent visit.  Global racial justice is a priority as is addressing our history and current challenges of systemic racism at home.  

We remain committed to advancing racial justice and equity and to preventing and countering systemic racism, discrimination, violence, xenophobia, and injustice, whenever and wherever they occur.

The United States reaffirms that intersectional discrimination, including based on sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, migration status, disability, religion, socioeconomic and other status, can compound the effects of systemic racism.

Systemic racism against people of African descent in the law enforcement and the criminal justice systems has existed for centuries and continues to exist in the United States and abroad.

As President Biden said: “George Floyd’s murder exposed for many what Black and Brown communities have long known and expressed: that we must make a whole-of-society commitment to ensure that our nation lives up to its founding promise of fair and impartial justice for all under the law.”

Real and lasting change will only come if we take action to prevent tragedies like this from ever happening again.  It is in this spirit that we approached your visit, recommendations, and observations.

I would like to share some initiatives the United States is undertaking to promote our shared objective to address the legacy and ongoing effects of systemic racism by advancing public trust and public safety through safe, effective, and accountable community policing as well as improvements to the criminal justice system.

In May 2022, President Biden signed an Executive Order on Advancing Effective, Accountable Policing and Criminal Justice Practices to Enhance Public Trust and Public Safety.  This went into effect on the second anniversary of the murder of George Floyd.

Through this Order, the President is making federal policing more effective and accountable by requiring federal law enforcement agencies to, among other things: ban chokeholds; restrict no-knock warrants; mandate the use of body-worn cameras; implement stronger use-of-force policies, including with the duty to intervene and duty to render medical aid; provide training on how to de-escalate situations; submit data on the use of force to the FBI; submit officer misconduct records to a new national accountability database; and restrict the sale or transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies.

The Order also directs the use of federal guidance on best practices, technical assistance, and grantmaking to support similar reforms within state, Tribal, local, and territorial law enforcement agencies.

Agencies across the federal government have made significant progress in implementing this Order.

So that our criminal justice system reflects core values that promote safer and stronger communities, our government released a Strategic Plan on Alternatives, Rehabilitation, and Reentry.  The plan strengthens public safety through proactive investments to prevent crime and reduce unnecessary interactions with the criminal justice system; support rehabilitation during incarceration; and facilitate successful reentry to society.

It builds upon President Biden’s Safer America Plan, a comprehensive strategy to prevent and combat gun crime and violence through more than 100 concrete policy actions to improve the criminal justice system and strengthen public safety by leveraging data, research, and proven successful strategies from state and local governments.

The United States is also supporting efforts that help prevent police involvement from occurring in the first place, including through behavioral health and services, such as community treatment models and alternative responder programs.

We also recognize that deep-rooted inequities caused by racism have led to economic inequality, which disproportionately stymies economic success for members of marginalized racial and ethnic communities.

The United States is increasing job training and employment opportunities, including for teenagers and young adults; and increasing housing and other supportive social services to individuals who are homeless.

We remain committed to working with other special procedures across the board, and we encourage all states to do so as well, including by extending Standing Invitations.  We look forward to welcoming a country visit by the Special Rapporteur on Racism later this month.

Our generational commitment to advancing equity requires sustained leadership and partnership with all communities.

Once again, I thank you for your visit, your remarks, and your recommendations.