WASHINGTON—In commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) focused attention on racial and ethnic profiling at a briefing in the U.S. Capitol. (Watch video here.)
“As we commemorate this day, we must strengthen efforts to combat prejudice and discrimination here and abroad,” said U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission, which monitors human rights in the 56-country OSCE region. “The profiling of Roma, Muslims, Blacks and other groups is unfortunately still a common practice in many places even though it ultimately fails to deter crime and terrorism.”
The Commission briefing, “Ethnic and Racial Profiling in the OSCE Region,” featured testimony Monday from Rosalind Williams, who spoke of her nearly 20-year struggle for justice after being racially profiled in Spain in 1992.
“Williams had the courage of her convictions to fight for 18 years to reach the U.N. Human Rights Committee, which ultimately validated her claims,” Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) said. “Williams’ case exemplifies how challenging it is for victims of profiling to get law enforcement officers to take them seriously, obtain necessary legal support, and get governments ultimately to respond.”
The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is commemorated on March 21. On that day, in 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against the apartheid “pass laws” in Sharpeville, South Africa. Proclaiming the day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 56 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.