Helsinki Co-Chairs Hastings and Cardin Call for US to Step Up Efforts to End Racial Discrimination

Friday, March 07, 2008

WASHINGTON- Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), responded to a decision released by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The Commission says the United States must do more to eradicate racial discrimination and address racial disparities.

“The civil rights struggle and the resulting changes in this country have often served as a model for other nations. At a time when hate crimes and discrimination are on the rise, we are making a mockery of the gains of the civil rights movement by backtracking on initiatives that address racial disparities. This is a global struggle, and the U.S. must do more and set a better example abroad,” said Chairman Hastings.

CERD is charged with periodically reviewing the performance of the 173 countries that have signed and ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. 18 independent experts make up CERD, including a U.S. representative. The U.S. appeared before the body on February 22 and 23. CERD’s decision on the United States was released earlier today.

“It is incredibly important that the United States appeared before the UN in line with our treaty obligations, but our commitment cannot stop there. We must continue to take actions that correct the historical injustices that have unfairly disadvantaged minorities in this country and address new challenges that arise today in our growing population,” said Co-Chairman Cardin.

CERD called on the U.S. government to increase efforts to address discrimination and disparities in housing, education, health, and the criminal justice system impacting racial minorities. It also called for the U.S. to improve efforts to return Katrina victims to their homes and support existing laws and programs aimed at redressing past injustices.


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