UK failing to address systemic racism against people of African descent, warn UN experts


NEW DELHI, Jan 28 (DNA): Racism in the United Kingdom is structural,
institutional and systemic, UN human rights experts said Friday, warning
that people of African descent in the country continue to encounter
discrimination and erosion of their fundamental rights.

We have serious concerns about impunity and the failure to address
racial disparities in the criminal justice system, deaths in police
custody, joint enterprise convictions, and the dehumanizing nature, of
the so-called stop and search policing strategy, the UN Working Group of
Experts on People of African Descent said in a statement at the end of
an official visit to the UK.

The Human Rights Council-appointed experts said they had gathered
evidence of the all-too-real trauma felt by people of African descent
who were suffering racial discrimination and injustice: A woman of
African descent we met during our visit lamented, will this ever end?
the experts said in a joint statement.

A decade of economic austerity measures in the UK following the global
crash of 2007-2008, had exacerbated racism, racial discrimination and
other intolerance which people of African descent encounter, thereby
eroding their rights, the experts observed.

 From the perspective of people of African descent, racism in the UK is
structural, institutional and systemic, the experts said.

The lived experience dealing with State and public institutions, the
private sector and society, was that it perpetuates racial hierarchies,
the experts said.

Racialized acts targeting people of African descent have remained
steadfast, and the experience is similar across different parts of the
UK, the experts said. They are victimized and have no assurance of
effective redress from authorities or the justice system.

Welcoming emerging efforts towards reparation for the legacies of the
trade and trafficking in enslaved Africans, the Working Group encouraged
all stakeholders including the Government, to do more to ensure
rehabilitation, restoration, and reconciliation.

Streamlining accessible, independent and effective complaint mechanisms
to address racism, ensuring police accountability, fair trial guarantees
for all persons, and redress to all persons affected by the Windrush
scandal, are imperative, Catherine Namakula, Chairperson of the Working
Group, said.

Austerity to the peril of fundamental rights, is a costly undertaking
for the UK, she said.

The Windrush scandal erupted more than five years ago involving those
born in the Caribbean who were brought to the UK as children, being
asked by the UK Home Office – despite living in the country for 50 years
– to prove their status as citizens, some having never been formally
naturalized, or having never applied for a passport.

Dozens were deported or told they would be removed from the UK, despite
being legal British subjects in their country of origin, and hundreds
suffered hardships, threats and other deprivations of their rights,
leading to the resignation of the then Home Secretary, in 2018.

The Working Group visited London, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol in
the course of their official visit.

The experts will present a report with their findings and
recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September.

The Working Group was established in 2002, following the World
Conference against Racism, held in Durban, South Africa the previous

It is composed of five independent experts: Catherine Namakula (Uganda)
current Chair-Rapporteur; Barbara Reynolds (Guyana) current Vice-Chair;
Dominique Day (United States of America); and Miriam Ekiudoko (Hungary).