Economic and Social Council
|16 January 1995|
1. In resolution 1993/20, dated 2 March 1993, the Commission on Human Rights requested the Secretary-General to provide the Special Rapporteur with all necessary assistance, in particular the staff and resources required to perform his or her functions, especially in carrying out missions and following them up. In resolution 1994/64, dated 9 March 1994, the Commission requested the Secretary-General without further delay to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the necessary assistance in carrying out his mandate.
2. The purpose of any missions undertaken by a special rapporteur is to take cognizance of the real situation in a country through first-hand information and discussion between the special rapporteur and the authorities of the country concerned and agents within society at large. They are in no case intended to level charges at the Governments concerned, but on the contrary to help publicize, if appropriate, the efforts made to remedy a particular negative situation. Missions are chosen on the basis of geographical distribution and bearing in mind that racial discrimination, which is inherently multiform, occurs on all continents.
3. On 14 June 1994, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, at the request of the Special Rapporteur, informed the Government of the United States of America of Mr. Glélé-Anhanhanzo's desire to visit the United States from 10 to 21 October 1994. In a letter dated 15 August 1994, the Government of the United States agreed to the visit and said that it was prepared to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the assistance he wanted.
4. The purpose of the mission was to enable the Special Rapporteur to meet with representatives of the Government and individuals active in the political, economic and social fields who were in a position to provide him with information relating to various aspects of his mandate.
5. In particular, it was important for the Special Rapporteur
to verify the accuracy or inaccuracy of the information transmitted
to him or brought to the attention of the Sub-Commission on Prevention
of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the Commission
on Human Rights. The information in question reported the persistence,
despite the official elimination of racial segregation and of
anti-discrimination laws, of structural and insidious racism and
racial discrimination against African Americans, Latin Americans,
Asians, Indian Americans (Amerindians), Arabs and Jews in the
economic and social spheres; of racial discrimination in the administration
of criminal justice; discriminatory practices in the police and
police brutality symbolized by the notorious Rodney King case,
which shook the United States and stirred international public
opinion, and the growth of incitement to racial hatred.
6. The Special Rapporteur adopted the following 11 focal points or topics capable of highlighting the racial discrimination experienced by certain ethnic communities and indigenous populations: health; education; housing; employment; political participation; criminal justice and the application of the death penalty; police violence; incitement to racial hatred; anti-Semitism; migrant workers; asylum seekers.
7. Bearing in mind the recommendations by the World Conference on Human Rights and the Commission on Human Rights regarding the need regularly and systematically to provide available information on human rights violations affecting women, the Special Rapporteur also decided that it was appropriate to direct his attention to the topic of racial discrimination against women.
8. During the mission, several of those with whom the Special Rapporteur spoke asked him also to address the issues of self-determination for ethnic minorities and indigenous populations and of racism reportedly practised in environmental matters. Although the Special Rapporteur believes that the second topic may fall within his purview, his competence does not extend to the first, i.e. the issue of the sovereignty and self-determination of the Amerindian populations, with representatives whom he none the less spoke a number of times; for this reason, the issue is not taken up in this report.
9. Together with an official from the Centre for Human Rights,
the Special Rapporteur visited Washington, D.C., New York, Los
Angeles and Atlanta (the detailed programme of the Special Rapporteur's
mission is set out in the annex). At each stage, he was assisted
by an interpreter assigned to the mission by the United Nations
Information Centre in Washington, and subsequently by United Nations
Headquarters in New York. These cities were selected because of
the Special Rapporteur's concern to acquaint himself with the
diverse historical, political, economic and sociological circumstances
underlying the issues of racism and racial discrimination in the
United States. While the Special Rapporteur does not claim that
these brief visits enabled him to gain a full understanding of
these problems in the United States, he believes that these four
cities typify the socio-political and economic dynamics at the
federal level. However, he regrets that he was unable to carry
out the visits which numerous non-governmental organizations urged
him to make to the Indian reservations along the United States-Mexico
border, in Mississippi and in Alabama, where there are problems
that come within his mandate.
10. During his stay, the Special Rapporteur had the honour to be invited to an extremely fruitful working lunch at the State Department with high-ranking officials and was received by Mr. Joel Spiro, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and Mrs. Nancy Ely Raffle, Deputy Secretary of State for Human Rights. The Rapporteur was also received by Mr. Dennis Hayashi, Director of the Civil Rights Department of the Department of Health and Human Services; Mr. James Lassiter, Mr. Ralph Thomas and Mr. Bo Cooper, officials of the Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service; Mr. Policarpio Marmolejos, Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney-General for Civil Rights; Mrs. Ada E. Deer, Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, and Mrs. Barbara Brooks, Deputy Director for Public Affairs, United States Commission on Civil Rights. The Special Rapporteur also held discussions with Mr. Charles Henry, Director, Office of External Affairs, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Department of State.
11. In addition to government officials, the Special Rapporteur was received by officials from the city councils of Washington, D.C., New York and Atlanta responsible in particular for preserving and if possible strengthening inter-community harmony within their cities and for protecting the rights of members of the various communities. The officials in question were Mr. Merrick Malone, Assistant City Administrator for Economic Development, in Washington; Mr. Robert Hammel and Mrs. Sara Vidal of the New York City Commission on Human Rights; and Mrs. Sheila Martin Brown, a member of Atlanta City Council.
12. The Government of Mexico took advantage of the Special Rapporteur's presence in the United States to inform him of the problems faced by migrant workers and Mexican immigrants, particularly in California. The Special Rapporteur also spoke with Mr. Victor Flores Olea, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, during his stay in New York, and with Mr. Enrique Loaeza, Consul-General of Mexico in Los Angeles, when he visited that city.
13. The Special Rapporteur himself received a number of non-governmental
organizations combating racism and racial discrimination, and
they included eminent representatives of the World Council of
Churches who were in Washington for hearings on racism as a violation
of human rights in the United States, representatives of organizations
from the African American, Asian, Mexican American, Arab American,
Indian American and Jewish communities.
14. Mindful of the impact of the mass media, particularly the persuasive power of the visual image, and conscious of the decisive importance of teaching tools used to eradicate racism, the Special Rapporteur devoted part of his stay in Los Angeles to visiting the Museum of Tolerance, established by the Simon Wiesenthal Center; the museum is a moving and highly instructive achievement and should be publicized throughout the world, for example, by video, failing the establishment of a museum on each continent.
15. The Special Rapporteur's varied and instructive itinerary enabled him to gather many instructive data on racism and racial discrimination in the United States that he would like to submit to the Commission on Human Rights in this report. However, it is important to point out that the report is a necessarily partial synthesis of the numerous testimonies received and of a wealth of valuable documents which fill at least three cardboard boxes and would take a team several months to work through.
16. The Special Rapporteur cannot conclude without expressing his gratitude to the Government of the United States for its welcome and for the spirit of cooperation and the openness displayed by its representatives. He would also like to thank the city officials of Washington, D.C., New York and Atlanta, as well as the representatives of those non-governmental organizations who were willing to meet him and provide him with documentation.
17. The United States of America is a federal Republic composed of 50 States and the District of Columbia, where the federal capital, Washington, is situated. The population, numbering approximately 250 million, is undergoing profound changes, both in terms of ethnic composition and of the age and sex pyramid. Virtually all the world's racial, national, ethnic, cultural and religious groups are present in the United States, a situation which increasingly tends to counterbalance the preponderance of the population of European origin. The following table gives an idea of the population of the United States. The average age is estimated to be 32.9 years and women make up over half the population (51.2 per cent). English is the predominant language, but 35 million people (15 per cent) speak another language.
18. The United States has a long and firmly-established democratic tradition and is considered, according to the familiar expression, to be a melting pot, with a cultural and socio-political balance among peoples of diverse origin. However, there are those who argue that, for historical reasons deeply rooted in American culture and on account of residual racism and racial discrimination (see chap. II):
"this democratic tradition and diversity have seldom
been reflected in the distribution of power or control over the
most basic strategic resources - land, capital, work opportunity,
wage rates, legal rights and life itself".
The liberal ideology and capitalism, which have secured the economic prosperity and political stability of the United States, have also created disparities between Whites and the other ethnic groups, particularly the African Americans, Indian Americans, Hispanics and Asians. Numerous measures have been adopted both locally and at the federal level to remedy this situation, but the effects fall short of expectations because of individual and structural resistance.
19. The economic and social policy conducted by the Republican Administration under President Reagan and President Bush in the 1980s helped to accentuate the imbalances in the distribution of wealth, for the benefit of the rich, while a broad sector of the population, consisting in particular of persons from ethnic minorities, was impoverished and marginalized. As President Clinton acknowledged in his State of the Union address on 25 January 1994, poverty, drugs, violence and crime are scourges which confront American society and primarily affect the most under-privileged classes, whose ranks are made up of ethnic minorities.
20. As far as human rights are concerned, the civil rights
movement which developed in the 1950s helped to bring up to date
in American society the principles that were recognized in the
Constitution and embodied in numerous laws. However, any human
rights problems in the United States were viewed solely from a
domestic standpoint, as the Government believed the relevant American
legislation to be more advanced in certain respects than international
norms. The process of ratification of the international human
rights instruments initiated by the United States Government in
the early 1990s marked the start of a search for a balance between
the implementation of internal norms and of universally recognized
human rights norms,
Race and Hispanic origin for the United States: 1990
|All persons||248 709 873||100.0|
|White||199 686 070||80.3|
|Black||29 986 060||12.1|
|American Indian, Eskimo or Aleut||1 959 234||0.8|
|American Indian||1 878 285||0.8|
|Asian or Pacific Islander||7 273 662||2.9|
|Chinese||1 645 472||0.7|
|Filipino||1 406 770||0.6|
|Asian Indian||815 447||0.3|
|Other Asian or Pacific Islander||821 692||0.3|
|Other race||9 804 847||3.9|
|Hispanic origin||22 354 059||9.0|
|Mexican||13 495 938||5.4|
|Puerto Rican||2 727 754||1.1|
|Cuban||1 043 932||0.4|
|Other Hispanic||5 086 435||2.0|
|Not of Hispanic origin||226 355 814||91.0|
21. The history of the United States of America is closely bound up with the Black slave trade and slavery and with the colonization and genocide of the Indians that were openly practised from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth century. Those practices were based on racism; slave traders and cotton planters, followed by the pioneers in their westward trek, fostered the doctrine of the superiority of the White race and the inferiority of Blacks and Indians.
22. Once they had been developed, racist theories institutionalized systematic discrimination, oppression and exploitation of the Blacks, the Indians and then the Asians, for the benefit of the Whites.
"Historically, racism has constituted/constitutes
a system of special privileges, benefits and psychological and
material benefits for people of European descent/white people
in United States society - a long-standing intergenerational,
developmental, affirmative action program for white people."
In American colonial slave-owning society, the Blacks and the Indians had no rights.
23. Africans were first brought to the western hemisphere enslaved in 1518, and to British colonial America in 1619, 12 years after the establishment of the first English settlement at Jamestown. By the middle of the seventeenth century, a slave system among colonial plantation owners was fully established and by the end of that century, enslaved Africans had become the chief source of labour and profit and, therefore, the key component of the colonial agricultural and commercial interests. A racist social structure was established, which placed Africans at the bottom and was supported by northern trading and shipping firms.
24. When the American colonialists challenged British rule in the late eighteenth century and achieved independence through the revolutionary war, a system of racism was incorporated into the basic documents of the newly formed United States of America. The Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution condoned racial subordination and discrimination. At that time, the framers of those documents saw no contradiction in composing a liberal view of liberty for white males with property, while denying it to all African peoples, indigenous peoples, white women and even poor white males.
25. Slavery was sanctioned by the difference between people of colour and oppressed whites. The poor whites were at least human. The enslaved African and the Native Americans were considered less than human, "uncivilized savages" even. The "3/5 of a person" clause in the United States Constitution best exemplifies that reality. In addition, and closely related was the European settler expansionism across the continent. In practice, this meant that President Andrew Jackson would initiate the federal policy contained in the Indian Removal Act of 1830 that would lead to the infamous "trail of tears".
26. It was the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution that officially ended slavery in the United States of America. Although slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, all southern states and many others passed "Black codes" or "Jim Crow" laws mandating racial segregation in almost all areas of public life and different treatment in both private and public affairs. The signature of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Lincoln also marked the official beginning of the United States Government's increase in wars against indigenous peoples, further reducing their population from an estimated 12 million (at first contact) to less than 200,000 by the late 1880s.
27. With respect to the reconstruction, constitutional amendments, the Bill of Rights and other laws, according to Vine Deloria, represent a special situation in their applicability to American Indians:
"The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution at a time when many Indian nations did not recognize the United States as a superior sovereign to whom they owed allegiance. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were added during the treaty-making period when it was anticipated that Indians would always remain separate from American society. The Sixteenth, Eighteenth and Twenty-first Amendments were adopted long after the end of treaty-making when everyone assumed that the federal government had a plenary power over Indians, which precluded the operation of these amendments with respect to Indians."
28. In effect, Jim Crow laws once again legalized and legislated white supremacy and white domination throughout society for all national minorities and indigenous peoples, who existed outside of any constitutional protection. Segregation and the reservation system were established to consolidate this domination. The post-Civil War amendments and all the achievements of the period of reconstruction were finally undermined with the adoption by States and the federal Government of the infamous "separate but equal" doctrine. The Supreme Court replaced slavery with an equally effective instrument of domination and subordination.
29. The Plessy v. Ferguson separate but equal case, decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1896, codified the segregated society where race determined social position. The violent counterrevolution was also achieved because of the terrorist activities of racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, white citizens' councils or random acts of racist violence. In fact, between the end of reconstruction and the early years of the twentieth century, more than 5,000 men, women and children were lynched by racist terrorist gangs. Violent race riots, the bombing of African American towns and the wholesale destruction of Black property were normal features of existence.
30. It was not until 1954 that the "separate but equal" doctrine was successfully challenged by civil rights groups and overturned by the Supreme Court. The decision that segregated schools were inherently unequal set the stage not only for the desegregation of American schools, but also set in motion a series of challenges to discrimination against African Americans and other national minorities which culminated in sweeping civil rights legislation in the 1960s.
31. The activities of national minorities fighting for equality and the changing international situation produced those changes and provided for the basic infrastructure of the domestic human rights machinery in the United States today. The changes were not easily won. Key leaders, like Malcom X and Martin Luther King, were assassinated, hundreds of others were murdered and thousands more were jailed or suffered because of their political activities.
32. Despite the numerous laws, institutions and measures which are designed to do away with the vestiges of the past and which include the affirmative action programmes, racism and racial discrimination are still topical issues in American society. The many publications on the matter are in themselves enough proof of this. A recent book was the subject of intense debate at the time of the Special Rapporteur's visit, on account of its racist content. The authors, Richard Herrstein and Charles Murray, attempt to prove that Blacks are genetically inferior to Whites on the basis of the disparity between the intelligence quotients of individuals in each group. They draw the conclusion that it is pointless to try and bridge the gap between the two races in the economic, social and cultural fields by affirmative action on behalf of Blacks. Again, the impressive number of non-governmental organizations and public agencies engaged in combating racism and racial discrimination is revealing. Hardly a day goes by without the race problem being brought up in the media in connection with elections or measures to be taken in one field or another. In watching the American television news, the Special Rapporteur was able to appreciate for himself that racial issues constantly came to the fore in the trial of the famous African American football player O.J. Simpson, who is accused of murdering his ex-wife and her lover.
33. The United States Commission on Civil Rights has itself stated:
"When we look at the state of civil rights in this
country today, there are reasons for both optimism and pessimism.
Few would disagree with the proposition that, despite the relative
gains that have been made by minorities through civil rights
legislation and court intervention, race relations in this country
are strained, and characterized by mistrust, fear and anger."
34. Thus, as a number of persons who spoke to the Special Rapporteur
said, "racism is still an issue", and they added that
it is widely institutionalized. However, the Special Rapporteur
prefers to describe the problem as one of social dysfunction caused
by the persistence of racism and racial discrimination. With this
concept, the Special Rapporteur would like to convey the idea
that sociological, psychological and structural carryovers are
at the root of the subtle forms of racism and racial discrimination
still found in American society. This stems from the power of
myths and prejudice and from their use as instruments of social
exclusion: myths and prejudice about the laziness of some people
and the ingenuity and industriousness of others;
35. Among the members of the African American community, which
bears the brunt of racism and racial discrimination, the emergence
of its own middle class and the success of a number of artists
and sports figures whom the media shower with praise are, in the
opinion of some, no more than alibis and a screen to mask the
failure of policies pursued by the federal Government for over
40 years to eliminate racism and racial discrimination.
36. It should be added that the dismantling of social programmes during the 1980s, under the Republican Administration, helped to produce worse living conditions for persons from ethnic minorities, particularly the African Americans and Latino Americans, and speeded up their marginalization.
37. The conclusions reached by the delegation of the World Council of Churches after the Hearings on Racism as a Violation of Human Rights in the United States (8-19 October 1994) supplement the findings of the Special Rapporteur about the status of members of the African American, Native American, Latino American and Asian communities:
"Many witnesses emphasized various patterns of racism against people of color;
In housing, they live in appalling conditions and endure insecure and unstable tenure;
In employment, they are discriminated against and relegated to the most menial jobs;
In health, the delivery services are underfunded and inefficiently run, resulting in higher rates of infant mortality, communicable diseases and cancer and decreased life expectancy;
In education, the system is characterized by underfunding, underachievement, alienation, and racist stereotyping;
In the criminal justice system, the rate of imprisonment and the application of the death penalty are disproportionately higher among them;
Police brutality is common in their communities, especially against youth;
Immigration and refugee policy are biased against them."
38. The Special Rapporteur would now like to illustrate this panorama with a number of facts concerning the main topics he has chosen.
39. The consequences of racism and racial discrimination in the field of health are reflected in the disparity in access to health care, the infant mortality rates and the life expectancy of Whites and Blacks or Latino Americans. This is confirmed by a number of studies and by the interview held by the Special Rapporteur at the Department of Health and Human Services. For example, a scrutiny of the statistics on cardiovascular disease and heart attacks shows that the mortality rate from these diseases is 29 per cent higher among African Americans than among Whites. The rate among Black women is twice that among White women. Despite the progress made in reducing overall infant mortality, the infant mortality rate among African Americans is twice that of White children. The risks of an African American becoming blind as a result of glaucoma are seven times greater than those faced by a White. The following statement is to be found in a publication by the New York African American Institute:
"Glaucoma is one of many communicable diseases that
continue to exacerbate the health crisis in the African American
community. The crisis is further compounded by recent revelations
of the resurgence of both syphilis and tuberculosis. When these
two are combined with the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the potential for
high incidence of morbidity and mortality in the African American
community is devastating. Of the 152,126 cases of AIDS as reported
by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia,
for 1990, African and Latino Americans together comprised 44
per cent of the cumulative reported cases of AIDS in the U.S.
African American women and African American children under thirteen
years of age accounted for 52 per cent of all cases of AIDS in
those categories by September 1990 as reported by the CDC."
40. The incidence of cancer, as well as of sexually transmitted
diseases, of infant mortality and of cardiovascular disorders
is also disproportionately high among African Americans in comparison
with Whites. Lung cancer, cancer of the oesophagus and stomach
cancer are predominant among African Americans and account for
this disparity. Furthermore, the fact that one third of African
Americans are considered poor means that they have "a five-year
survival rate (with cancer) 12 per cent lower than that of Whites,
50 per cent for Whites and 38 per cent for Blacks".
41. A comparison of statistics for diabetes also reveals a higher incidence of morbidity or mortality among African Americans compared with Whites. "Rates of diagnosed diabetes are 50 per cent higher in Black males, and 100 per cent higher in Black females, compared with their White counterparts [and] the adjusted death rate from diabetes for Blacks is 2-4 times higher than for Whites."
42. It is possible that these statistical disparities are attributable
to a lack of familiarity with and attention to health matters,
but they are caused essentially by unequal access to health care,
lack of medical insurance and discriminatory practices by part
of the medical profession. Far fewer Blacks than Whites are able
to see a doctor each year because they are poor and have no insurance.
Moreover, the major medical centres where the best doctors work
are usually in residential areas where Whites live rather than
in the poor districts inhabited by the Blacks. When the Blacks
go to see a doctor, if he is White they are not well treated.
Other ethnic minorities also face similar situations. The case
of a Hispanic who reportedly died after an injection of a higher
than usual dose of anaesthetic because the doctor thought that
Hispanics were more sensitive to pain than Whites was brought
to the attention of the Special Rapporteur.
44. One hidden fact that should be brought out into the open is that racism lies at the root of many psychological disorders and mental illnesses, including neurosis and psychosis suffered by persons belonging to ethnic minorities. However, practitioners tend to disregard this factor in diagnosing and treating patients. In preference to alternative therapies drawing on the patient's experience, practitioners administer heavy doses of medicines, thereby making the patients dependent or even feeble-minded.
45. Although the United States Supreme Court's famous decision
in Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, abolished segregation
in education, a form of de facto education stemming from economic
inequality has emerged. Since many people from ethnic minorities
cannot afford to enter the private schools and universities, which
are the best, the majority of them end up in establishments that
are inadequately subsidised by public funds. As a result, children
from ethnic minorities receive an inferior education and are not
so well prepared to meet the demands of the American economy or
to manage public affairs. Authoritative studies by the Urban League
show that "a large number of Black children are not able
to attend pre-school because their parents have financial problems,
and while 86 per cent of American children from all income groups
are educated in the public schools system, the public schools
are failing to educate many, especially those from economically
disadvantaged backgrounds. Among Blacks, the drop-out rate was
17.7 per cent".
46. Some people assert that covert but real segregation contributes to the development of an underclass of citizens, comprising mainly Blacks, Puerto Ricans and other Hispanics, whose lot is poverty, illness and a lack of education, and who take to crime and drugs in despair. It has been acknowledged that endemic violence has entered American secondary schools to such an extent that some of them have been compelled to install firearms detectors and guards at their gates.
47. A number of persons pointed out that school curricula fail to take sufficient account of the cultural heritage and ethnic diversity of the United States and tend to conceal the country's history and deny the identity of the various non-White communities of which it is composed, to the benefit of education emphasizing America's European heritage.
48. In regard to housing, one striking feature is apparent from a visit to the large American cities: the contrast between the areas where a majority of Whites live and those lived in by ethnic minorities, and particularly those where African Americans are in the majority. In the White areas, the houses are in a good state of repair, the highways and public infrastructure are well maintained and the household garbage is collected regularly - quite the opposite of what may be seen in those districts where ethnic minorities predominate. There is a de facto segregation which has been shown by certain studies:
"According to one analysis of the 1990 Census data,
the majority of the nation's 30 million African Americans were
segregated in 1991 as they were at the height of the civil rights
movement in the 1960s. In particular, the survey of 219 major
metropolitan areas found that African Americans were highly segregated
in 31 - or two thirds - of the 47 metropolitan areas where they
make up at least 20 per cent of residents, including Detroit,
Michigan, Chicago, Illinois, Miami, Florida and Birmingham, Alabama."
49. The quality of the housing occupied by persons from ethnic
minorities is frequently below national standards. For example,
many cases of lead contamination have been found in districts
where so-called coloured people live, because of the poor state
of the waterpipes: "4 million housing units have lead contamination
which is affecting 2 million school- aged children".
"In 1980, federal funds in housing totalled $66 billion.
In 1993, the total of federal funds was $8 billion. At the high
point of 1985, there were approximately 1,900 housing starts
in single and multiple structures of 5 or more units. In 1990,
there was a total of approximately 750 housing starts, with the
picture somewhat improved in 1993 with approximately 1,600 new
housing starts registered by the Census Bureau."
50. Moreover, African Americans, Latinos and other ethnic minorities
might encounter racial discrimination affecting access to housing
subsidies, as in the city of Buffalo, in New York State, where
it was found that "97 per cent of rental housing subsidies
were given to white households even though 21 per cent of those
on waiting lists were people of color".
51. Another distinctive urban feature is the number of homeless persons wandering aimlessly and begging in the large American cities. Yet again, a majority of them are so-called coloured people. A study by the Housing Department has found that over 6 million persons were homeless, the majority of them African Americans. Although the latter make up 12 per cent of the United States population, they account for at least 48 per cent of the homeless. In New York City alone, where the percentage of African Americans is estimated at 17 per cent, they account for 60 per cent of the homeless.
52. Like most industrialized countries, the United States is experiencing a growing level of unemployment. However, because of the changing economy and some discriminatory practices, rates of unemployment among national minorities and indigenous peoples are appalling. This is especially true for young people.
53. The official unemployment rate in the United States is
5.6 per cent. For African American adults, it is officially 15.9
per cent. For African American youth however, it is 40 per cent.
The rate of unemployment among Latinos is approximately 17 per
cent and among Native Americans, the official rate of unemployment
averages 46 per cent (data often is not kept, but it is known
that on some reservations unemployment ranges as high as 70 per
cent). These official rates must be understood against the reality
of hundreds of thousands of people having given up looking for
work and who are therefore not counted in official data, and the
inclusion of those persons in the armed forces being counted.
For instance, the real rate of unemployment for African Americans
is 26 per cent and for African American youth, 58 per cent.
54. The misery, pain and suffering brought on by unemployment can be seen on any street in the United States, with African American homeless people increasingly begging for food, work or money. The changes in the job market, coupled with the effects of racial discrimination, have led to an unprecedented marginalization of the Black working class. In fact, the Urban Institute, in a seminal report on employment discrimination, noted that racism in employment is still widespread in the United States, with African Americans three times as likely as Whites to face discrimination when applying for entry level jobs. The depressed United States economy and the global restructuring occurring has meant that workers with little education cannot find decent paying jobs. Others who have found new jobs in the service sector typically receive lower wages, and most of these jobs normally do not provide medical insurance or decent fringe benefits. Federal government policy and corporate cutbacks again have exacerbated the worsening employment conditions.
55. For instance, during the 1980s, the federal minimum wage was frozen at $3.35 per hour. This policy expanded the working poor. Thousands of persons working full-time cannot afford the basic necessities of life. Not able to participate in the economy in any meaningful way, many in the Black working class have opted to participate, or turn their heads while their children participate, in the underground economy.
56. In addition, racial discrimination in employment has been
a central objective of corporations adjusting to the emerging
international realities. The Supreme Court led in the assault
in this area. The 1988-1989 Court decided that United States law
prohibiting employment discrimination should be drastically reduced.
In five cases the Court's restrictive rulings limited the domestic
human rights machinery from protecting persons injured by discriminatory
57. Notwithstanding the Constitution and federal laws purportedly granting the vote to all "citizens", numerous barriers exist to the participation of people of colour in the political process; the chief barrier being the structure of the system itself, which ensures that people of colour will not be able to elect their fair share of representatives at the national, state or local levels. In particular, the single district electoral system employed throughout the United States, which requires winning candidates to attract a majority or plurality of the vote, makes it difficult for people of colour to elect representatives since in most districts people of colour are outnumbered by White voters. For instance, although Black people make up 12 per cent of the United States population, they occupy only about 5 per cent of the elected offices in the country and have only 1 per cent of the seats in the Senate. In addition, the low number of people of colour holding elected offices can further be attributed to the fact that few of them have one million or more dollars to spend on running for the Senate. In short, although people of colour in the United States generally have the right to vote, they do not have the equally fundamental right to representation.
58. When they are appointed to positions of political responsibility,
elected African American officials, for example, whether mayors,
governors, judges or other elected officials, may face various
forms of harassment - which do not affect other elected officials
- by the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Such practices were commonplace during the 1980s under the Republican
Administration. A number of Black elected officials were placed
under surveillance, their telephones tapped, subjected to investigations,
spied on by cameras for corruption or embezzlement, and juries
hearing cases involving some of them were manipulated. The public
figures include Julian Bond, a Georgia State legislator, Clarence
Mitchell III, a Maryland Senator, Federal Judge Alcee Hastings;
the following Congressmen: Ron Dellums, Floyd Flake, Harold Ford,
Mervyn Dymally, John Conyers, Charles Rangel, William Clay and
William Gray; the following mayors: Andrew Young, Maynard Jackson,
Tom Bradley, Coleman Young, David Dinkins, Harold Washington and
Marion Barry. Only Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington
who has since been re-elected, was convicted of using cocaine.
The various charges held against a number of others were dropped,
and those who were tried were acquitted.
59. There is a glaring disparity between the number of so-called coloured prisoners and the number of Whites in the United States prison population. Some people account for this by the fact that persons from ethnic minorities are more inclined to take to crime because of their idleness. For others, on the contrary, the judicial system is particularly severe or even discriminatory towards such persons. For the same offence or crime, a Black, a Latino, an Asian, an Indian or an Arab is likely to receive a penalty that is two to three times harsher than a White's. This imbalance is also the result of the inadequate representation of ethnic minorities on juries.
60. Racial factors affect the judicial process, from the moment
of arrest right through to the trial. Here again, the figures
speak for themselves. For example, although men of African American
origin make up 6 per cent of the United States population, they
represent 44 per cent of prison inmates. It is common knowledge
that one out of four black males aged 20 to 29 is either in prison,
on parole or probation. According to the National Institute of
Drug Abuse, in the United States as a whole 80 per cent of drug
users are white, whereas Whites only make up 7 per cent of those
arrested on drug charges and Blacks 28 per cent.
61. It should be added that the systematic preference given
in the 1980s to a repressive policy towards crime rather than
preventive and rehabilitative programmes led to a considerable
increase in the prison population. It has been estimated that
by the year 2000 the United States prison population is likely
to reach 2,500,000. This repressive trend has led to an unprecedented
boom in the prison industry. Between 1969 and 1989 the United
States cut its education budget by 25 per cent and increased the
criminal justice budget by 400 per cent.
63. As to the death penalty, a number of studies and reports,
including those by Congress, Amnesty International and Human Rights
Watch, emphasize the racial discrimination prevalent in its application.
64. The GAO recently found in the wake of the Los Angeles rebellion that 47,000 claims of police brutality had been registered with the Justice Department over a period of seven years. That a national phenomenon had been identified, in the opinion of many, needed no further proof. However, under the Administration of President Bush, the Justice Department continued to suggest that no discernible pattern of abuse existed and further asserted that complaints did not actually prove that any violations had occurred. The GAO study revealed, from a representative sample of 15,000 cases, that not only did a pattern of abuse exist, but that there were 181 identifiable jurisdictions within which the issue of police brutality was most pronounced. For most observers, the only thing unique about the Rodney King beating was that it was caught on video tape and that he lived to tell about it; others died as a consequence of police beatings.
65. The use of excessive force by police against African Americans, Asian Americans, Arabs and Indians has been cited as one of the most pressing human rights problems facing the United States. Many testimonies that the Special Rapporteur is not able to reproduce here, owing to lack of space, were heard on this issue during the hearings attended by him in New York on 15 October 1994. Currently, no federal law exists that specifically addresses the issue of police brutality in the United States. A proposed legislative amendment that would have addressed these issues was dropped from the recently passed omnibus Crime Bill.
66. Part of the training received by police officers in their
academy is responsible for their violent behaviour. One participant
in the World Council of Churches hearings in Washington, a retired
police officer, who met the Special Rapporteur stated that "in
training, we practise shooting at a black target on a white background.
The police hesitate to use - or even draw guns on - Whites. They
never hesitate with Blacks. In a training video, every criminal
portrayed is Black". He went on to say: "When a young
Black man enters the police academy, there is a 22-week metamorphosis.
He often goes in planning to be a helper in his community and
emerges reflecting the mores of the force. The result is that
some Black policemen also act brutally".
67. Incitement to racial hatred has to be considered in conjunction
with racist violence. Both are propagated by extreme right-wing
movements and organizations, the neo-Nazi groups whose number
is constantly increasing and whose influence is spreading.
"[a] current survey of the number of racist Skinheads
in the United States shows a total of approximately 3,300 to
3,500, in 160 gangs, located in 40 States. These figures represent
further growth since ADL's last count in 1990. The seven States
with the greatest number of Skinheads are: New Jersey (400),
Texas (300 to 400), Oregon (300), Colorado (200), Florida (200),
Michigan (200) and Virginia (200)."
These organizations disseminate their racist propaganda against Jews, African Americans, Latinos, Arabs and other so- called coloured people through the radio stations they own, graffiti, posters, anonymous telephone calls, public demonstrations and rallies.
68. Where Arab Americans in particular are concerned, the American
Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee considers that there is a direct
correlation between violence, intimidation and heinous crimes
against Arab Americans and political tension in the Middle East.
The Committee recorded a "300 per cent increase in hate crime
activity" directed against this group during the Gulf War
in 1991. The Committee also makes the point that the media and
the educational system help to spread prejudice and stereotypes
where Arabs are concerned.
"The typical screen Arab can be summarized in a handful
of clichés: he uses terrorism and/or oil as a weapon against
civil societies. He supposedly worships a different deity than
Jews and Christians, and is opposed to both religions. He treats
women of his race as chattel, but prefers to kidnap and rape
White, western women. He delights in the torture of innocents.
Although often presented as a coward, at the same time he willingly
dies for his cause, because, we are led to believe, he does not
appreciate human life as 'we do'."
69. Racist violence in the United States takes on many different forms and manifestations. The various types of racist violence include killings, death threats, vandalism, assaults, bomb threats, bombings, arson and acts of harassment. The different forms include random and organized violence and can be expressed as police brutality, or attacks on immigrants which largely go unreported. Alongside the violence by police and bigoted individuals, violence by organized groups is increasing.
70. During the 1980s, Black women were murdered in record numbers
in Boston; elderly women were shot by klansmen in Chattanooga;
others were lynched in Georgia and Alabama; and still others were
shot down in the street. Additionally, evidence exists to suggest
that many of the unsolved disappearances may be a result of dozens
of African Americans being kidnapped off city streets and hunted
for fun by White supremacist groups.
71. The pattern of increased racist violence, such as cross
burnings, racial attacks, bombings and harassment, has been documented
by a number of organizations, including the Center for Democratic
72. Statistics released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) in compliance with the Hate Crimes Statistics Act
73. In an independent study carried out by the American Jewish
Committee, 4,755 offences listed by the Department of Justice
were examined: more than 75 per cent of the hate crimes that were
racially motivated were directed at African Americans; of 917
hate crimes motivated by religious differences, 87 per cent were
directed at Jews.
74. In a nationwide survey of college newspaper editors, it
was revealed that on 7 out of every 10 campuses there is at least
one incident of racial violence every school year. There are close
to 3,000 colleges and universities in the United States.
75. In the State of Texas, a skinhead activist was tried and convicted of murdering an elderly Black man but was only sentenced to 10 years' probation by a White jury; in Florida, a Black tourist was kidnapped on New Year's Eve 1992 by three White men shouting racial slurs, who then doused him with gas, set him afire and left him for dead; in Georgia, Mexican Americans were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan; the constant intimidation and harassment caused a number of families to move out of the State; in the State of Washington, an Ethiopian immigrant was beaten to death by neo-Nazis and skinhead activists; in North Carolina, a Native American political activist was murdered under mysterious circumstances after he exposed corruption among local officials; in Maryland, two women of colour were chased by Whites, doused with kerosene and would have been set on fire, except for the intervention of neighbours; in California and Washington State, the local offices of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) were bombed in the same week; a few years earlier the organization's southern regional office and Jacksonville, Florida branch offices had received letter bombs. An NAACP attorney was killed by a letter bomb that same year.
76. Antisemitism is on the rise in the United States; it is
associated with anti-zionism and the denial of the Jewish holocaust.
Its most virulent expressions are to be found in the political
activities of prominent leaders such as Patrick Buchanan and David
Duke, a former candidate in the 1992 presidential elections. Jewish
organizations also attribute antisemitic tendencies to the leader
of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, and speak of an alliance
between the Black Caucus - the group of Black Congressmen - and
77. Antisemitism is not just propagated by political leaders,
but also by the extreme right-wing and neo-nazi movements and
organizations referred to in the previous section. Mention should
also be made of the Liberty Lobby, the most important antisemitic
propaganda organization in the United States, according to the
Institute of Jewish Affairs. The Lobby, which was founded in 1958
by Willis A. Carto, publishes a newspaper, Spotlight, for
800,000 readers and also owns a radio station, Free America,
relayed by 300 other radio stations which broadcast its messages
in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.
78. There are no longer any discriminatory criteria in official
United States immigration policy, as was the case until 1965,
when the quota system based on national origin was abolished.
79. During the decade 1980-1990, the United States experienced
a massive influx of so-called illegal or undocumented immigrants,
which led to a tightening up of border controls,
"Petitioners allege that the U.S. Government's Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) and Border Patrol have tolerated
and thereby encouraged shootings, improper use of firearms and
other weapons, beatings, physical abuse and racially motivated
verbal abuse of immigrants, refugees and U.S. citizens travelling
across or in close proximity to the U.S.-Mexico border. The U.S.
Government has authorized a de facto 'iron fist' policy along
the U.S.-Mexico border, authorizing U.S. Border Patrol agents
to use deadly force by firing upon Mexican nationals who sometimes
throw stones at U.S. agents, or attempt to flee back into Mexico,
during border-crossing encounters with U.S. officials. This 'iron
fist' policy has resulted in escalating violence along the U.S.-Mexico
border, and the unnecessary maiming and killing of numerous Mexican
nationals. Because of their indigency, fear of exposure to arrest
and deportation, and lack of knowledge of their legal rights,
few migrants unjustifiably injured in these incidents, or families
of those killed, seek redress in the U.S. courts. Because of
the costs of litigation, technicalities in U.S. laws, and various
judicial 'immunities' which U.S. border agents enjoy, those who
do seek compensation in U.S. courts are seldom successful. The
pattern of the U.S. Government's response to documentation of
severe abuses, including testimony, public charges, formal complaints
and litigation, has been perfunctory investigations and minor,
if any, punishment of offending officers."
These allegations concern the case of six individuals who were seriously injured or killed by rifle fire from border guards.
Immigrants Admitted in Fiscal Years 1992 and 1993 for Regions and Top 15 Countries of Birth
|Region and country of birth||1993||1992|
|All regions||880 014||810 635|
|Europe||157 920||143 729|
|Asia||357 041||348 553|
|Africa||27 404||24 826|
|Oceania||4 804||4 485|
|North America||279 809||238 552|
|Caribbean||97 843||84 540|
|Central America||55 797||47 654|
|South America||53 036||50 488|
|Unknown or not reported||-||2|
|Country of birth:|
|1. Mexico (1)||109 027||91 332|
|2. China (6)||65 552||38 735|
|3. Philippines (3)||63 189||59 179|
|4. Viet Nam (2)||59 613||77 728|
|5. Soviet Union (4)||58 568||43 590|
|6. Dominican Republic (5)||44 886||40 840|
|7. India (7)||40 021||34 629|
|8. Poland (8)||27 729||24 837|
|9. El Salvador (9)||25 517||21 110|
|10. United Kingdom (10)||18 543||19 757|
|11. Korea (11)||17 949||18 983|
|12. Canada (14)||17 081||14 958|
|13. Jamaica (12)||16 969||16 820|
|14. Iran (15)||14 700||12 808|
15. Taiwan (13)
(province of China)
|14 309||16 232|
|Other||286 361||279 097|
80. The report of the Mexican Human Rights Commission - a reliable
source of information in this area - also contains a series of
allegations relating to the deaths, violation of the physical
integrity, unlawful deprivation of liberty and sexual abuse of
Mexican migrant workers who cross the United States southern border
either lawfully or unlawfully. The report also states that "all
along the southern border zone of the United States there have
been cases of discriminatory conduct based on ideological concepts
whereby persons with a particular phenotype - what are generally
known as 'racial characteristics' - are considered inferior. Unfortunately,
this type of prejudice affects some Mexicans, and in particular
81. In addition to these incidents, the overall climate of hostility towards immigrants prevailing in California lies at the root of a number of acts of violence by police officers against migrant workers. In addition, although Proposition 187, which was recently adopted by the California State Legislature, and against which an appeal has been lodged with the Supreme Court, is intended to check clandestine immigration, it contains discriminatory and anti-constitutional provisions, in particular in terms of access to education, to health care and to welfare services by the children of illegal migrant workers. In its 1982 ruling in Plyler vs. Doe, the Supreme Court found that it was anti-constitutional to deny children access to education, regardless of the status of their parents, on the grounds that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
82. Regarding the reception given to asylum seekers, there
has been controversy about the disproportion between the number
of persons admitted from the former USSR and the number of Cubans
and Haitians let in at the peak of the crisis in Haiti following
on the expulsion of President Jean Bertrand Aristide. In addition,
some people believe that the fact that Haitian asylum-seekers
alone are obliged to take a test for the AIDS virus and are sent
to Guantanamo base without a prior hearing is a discriminatory
practice. In general, "the continued existence of the ideological
determination of whether one is a 'political' or 'economic' refugee
which allows into the United States large numbers of Europeans
as opposed to persons from Africa, Asia or Latin America is subject
83. Almost 32 million women of colour live in the United States
or, in other words, one in four women are from national minority
groups, or indigenous nations. Two thirds of Asian American and
one third of Latino women are foreign born. These shares are even
higher among working age women. Nearly half of Latino women aged
18-64 are immigrants, as are four in five Asian American women.
Women comprise three fifths of all poor adults and nearly half
of employed women are in lower-paying administrative support and
service jobs. In every social category, women of colour are located
at the bottom.
84. The poverty rate of families maintained by women is much
higher than for other families, the rate of African American female
householders with no husband present is higher than for their
White counterparts - 50 per cent. Thirty- one per cent of Native
American families were maintained by female heads of household.
85. The problem of sex-based wage discrimination has long been
recognized as a major obstacle to the full economic equality of
women. Women continue to suffer disproportionately from the general
economic distress in the country. Despite some gains in the 1980s,
based on the decline in the earning power of men, women still
earn an average of 72 cents to the dollar earned by men. Moreover,
women are often employed in part time or temporary jobs where
they lack benefits, such as pensions and health insurance.
86. With respect to housing or the lack thereof, 15 per cent of homeless persons were women in 1988. However, by 1992, it is estimated that close to 30 per cent of the homeless population were women, with women of colour with children the fastest growing sector of the homeless population. In 1989, 77 per cent of all households living in conventional public housing were female headed. Again, a disproportionate number of women of colour were located in public housing.
87. Federal laws designed to protect women and girls from discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational programme that receives federal funds are not effective. Patterns of race and sex discrimination persist in the health care delivery system, from the exclusion of women of colour from important clinical drug trials to their under-representation in the preventive health care system.
88. The Special Rapporteur received information from several organizations studying the proximity of areas where ethnic minorities and indigenous Indian American populations live to the sites of dangerous or toxic product depots and dumps.
89. After a thorough investigation, the Commission for Racial
Justice of the United Church of Christ found that the racial factor
was a decisive one in the choice of sites for toxic waste dumps.
"Race proved to be the most significant among variables tested in association with the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities. This represented a consistent national pattern.
Communities with the greatest number of commercial hazardous waste facilities had the highest composition of racial and ethnic residents. In communities with two or more facilities or one of the nation's five largest landfills, the average minority percentage of the population was more than three times that of communities without facilities (38 per cent vs. 12 per cent).
In communities with one commercial hazardous waste facility, the average minority percentage of the population was twice the average minority percentage of the population in communities without such facilities (24 per cent vs. 12 per cent).
Although socio-economic status appeared to play an important role in the location of commercial hazardous waste facilities, race still proved to be more significant. This remained true after the study controlled for urbanization and regional differences. Incomes and home values were substantially lower when communities with commercial facilities were compared to communities in the surrounding counties without facilities.
Three out of the five largest commercial hazardous waste landfills in the United States were located in predominately Black or Hispanic communities. These three landfills accounted for 40 per cent of the total estimated commercial landfill capacity in the nation.
Three out of every five Black and Hispanic Americans lived in communities with controlled toxic waste sites.
More than 15 million Blacks lived in communities with one or more controlled toxic waste sites.
More than 8 million Hispanics lived in communities with one or more uncontrolled toxic waste sites.
Blacks were heavily over-represented in the populations
of metropolitan areas with the largest number of uncontrolled
toxic waste sites."
90. Robert Bullard, a toxic waste specialist at Clark University,
Atlanta, reveals a number of similar facts in his communication
to the Special Rapporteur.
91. The highest United States authorities have acknowledged the seriousness of the situation and adopted measures to deal with it. Thus, in July and December 1993 at meetings in Indianapolis and Washington of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and of the African American Church, two influential African American organizations, Mr. Al Gore, the Vice-President of the United States, recognized that discrimination in the environmental sphere was a national problem and announced that the administration would turn its attention to it. In 1993, Congress adopted legislation, the Environmental Justice Act and the Environmental Health Equity Information Act, intended to prevent the location of toxic waste sites in areas inhabited by ethnic minorities. On 11 February 1994, President Clinton signed an order on justice in the environmental sphere.
92. The body of United States legislation designed to protect citizens or residents from racism and racial discrimination contains constitutional, legislative and regulatory provisions in the spheres of health, housing, education, access to public goods and services, the provision of goods and services by private individuals, and in various civil and political spheres. It also makes available various remedies.
93. The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution precludes any state from denying its citizens the "equal protection of the law". This clause essentially operates to protect minorities by requiring that all people "similarly situated" receive equal treatment under the law. It also prohibits unjustifiable legal distinctions among different classes of people. The equal protection clause, however, does not govern the actions of the federal Government. Federal Government classifications that would otherwise violate the equal protection clause may be challenged under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth Amendment precludes the federal Government from denying its citizens equal protection of the laws: "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law". The standards for judicial review under the due process and equal protection clauses are identical.
94. Six major civil rights laws which have been established in the past 30 years are central to anti-discrimination law in the United States. They are often used in conjunction with constitutional or statutory protections.
|Civil right||Statute/date||Responsible agency|
|Public accommodations||Title II, Civil Rights Act, 1964||Department of Justice|
|Equal education||Titles IV and VI, Civil Rights Act, 1964||Department of Justice,|
|Title VII, Civil Rights Act, 1964||Education|
|Equal Employment Opportunity||Employment||Commission, Justice Department|
|Voting rights||Voting Rights Act 1965||Department of Justice|
|Credit||Equal Credit Opportunity||Department of Justice|
|Fair housing||Title VIII, Housing Act 1968||Department of Housing and Urban Development|
There are five primary agencies in the United States whose activities are aimed at the examination and elimination of various forms of racial discrimination and segregation. Employment, educational and housing discrimination are each handled by separate offices or agencies.
95. The principal civil rights enforcement agency in the United States is the Department of Justice, which has singular as well as overlapping enforcement authority regarding a number of different statutes which involve coordination with a broad range of other federal agencies. The Department of Justice is responsible for enforcing statutes guaranteeing the right to register and vote without discrimination or intimidation, which includes assigning federal personnel to conduct voter registration and determine whether changes in voting provisions are discriminatory. They also litigate cases of employment discrimination by public sector employers. In addition, the Department of Justice has a unit which represents the federal Government in school desegregation law suits based on Title IV, other statutory grounds, or on the Constitution. This unit also monitors court orders. The Housing and Civil Enforcement Division at the Department of Justice is responsible for bringing suits relating to patterns and practices of discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and by fair lending statutes.
96. Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation. The law states that all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodations without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, colour, religion or national origin.
97. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in all federally-assisted programmes and activities based on race, colour or national origin. The law states that no person in the United States shall, on the ground of race, colour or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any programme or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
98. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, colour, religion, national origin or sex. Employers covered include those persons with 15 or more employees, as well as state and local governments. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is an independent agency which enforces all aspects of Title VII, except litigation involving state and local governments, which is handled by the Department of Justice. EEOC handles all complaints of employment discrimination and funds many state and local government agencies to investigate and process such cases.
99. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guarantees the right to register and vote without discrimination or intimidation. Under the Voting Rights Act, the Department of Justice is responsible for preventing government officials and private parties from using voting practices to exclude minorities from full participation in the electoral process.
100. Title VIII of the Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination based on race, colour, religion, sex or national origin in the sale, rental, advertising and financing of housing. The Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 now provides the federal Government with substantially improved enforcement powers, the right to file suit on behalf of aggrieved parties in the Federal Court and the right to impose substantial monetary damages to defendants.
101. The Commission on Civil Rights is the major machinery for fighting discrimination in the United States. Its mandate has grown considerably as the scope of civil rights has expanded over the years. Today, the Commission is charged with investigating patterns of discrimination or denial of equal protection of the laws on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin. Since its creation in 1957, the Commission has established facts and recommended solutions. Although it has no enforcement authority, its investigations into the effects of discrimination have proved relevant and accurate. Over the years, the Commission's findings and reports have furnished the basis for countless public and private actions to combat inequality of opportunity in the United States. The Commission's recommendations have found their way into numerous laws, executive orders and policies. Civil rights acts from 1960 onwards reflect Commission recommendations. Two major examples of such recommendations that have become law are Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in federally assisted programmes, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which provided for the assignment of federal examiners to areas where citizens experience difficulty in registering to vote.
102. As is clear from the preceding paragraphs, there is no lack of legislation against racism and racial discrimination in the United States. Without wishing to repeat himself, the Special Rapporteur has drawn on numerous accounts and documents provided by reliable sources and has concluded that all too often the law is circumvented or violated by federal or State agents and individuals. In addition, economic and social conditions inherited from the past, which the law has not yet succeeded in totally eliminating, restrict its impact. As a result, de facto segregation may persist, for economic reasons, in housing and education, even though the law prohibits any form of segregation; de facto segregation may also persist in access to health care. Victims of police brutality may, because of their lack of education or resources, be unaware of the remedies available to them to obtain redress.
103. For its part, the Commission on Civil Rights recognizes the limits of the law when it says the following:
"Although the successes of some minorities and women
may make it appear to some that civil rights are the norm in
America, in fact, they are not. Civil rights law enforcement
in areas such as education, housing, employment, and economic
development has deteriorated steadily in recent years, and today,
is incapable of meeting the social and economic challenges facing
our increasingly diverse Nation. Failure to realize the promise
of civil rights laws is a root cause of the rising tensions among
our diverse racial and ethnic communities."
104. In other words, even when cases of racism or racial discrimination
are brought before the courts, the victims do not always obtain
redress, on account of the growing reluctance of many judges to
take into account a racist intent or motive in dealing with crimes.
This trend among the judiciary is perhaps attributable to a paradoxical
view that since racism and racial discrimination are no longer
current in American society and all American citizens are on an
equal footing, to take into consideration the racist motive or
intent in judging offences would be to place ethnic or racial
minorities in a special judicial situation. This accounts for
the strict criteria necessary for an offence to be classified
as racist and the frequent tendency to dismiss cases or to hand
down light penalties to persons guilty of racist offences. This
tendency among the judiciary is aptly described by Aviam Soifer
when he observes that "today, only a smoking gun - i.e. incontrovertible
proof of a specific racially discriminatory motive that an individual
plaintiff can tie directly to his or her own plight - will move
Court to acknowledge that discrimination, even against African
Americans, may still be legally relevant".
105. There is another factor which undermines the implementation of anti-discriminatory legislation: the composition of juries. As ethnic minorities are barely represented on juries, the verdicts handed down by the courts when they hear cases resulting from racist acts or racial discrimination are often biased or unjust.
106. There is no legislation to prohibit incitement to racial
hatred and the activities of racist organizations because of the
sacrosanct nature of the First Amendment to the Constitution,
which guarantees total freedom of expression and association,
regardless of the ideas expressed and aims pursued by an association.
This explains the reservations expressed by the United States
Government with regard to article 4 of the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and article
20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
107. The Rapporteur is also disturbed by the way the United States Supreme Court is moving in its decisions on freedom of expression. In its decision R.A.V. vs. City of St. Paul, Minnesota, 60 U.S.L. 4667 (22 June 1992), the Supreme Court found that the burning of crosses - a form of intimidation commonly employed by members of the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize African Americans - was a form of freedom of expression protected by the Constitution.
108. The United States possesses what must be the densest web of community organizations in the world, which acts as a rampart against racism and racial discrimination in American society. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s left American society with a legacy of numerous religious or secular, ethnic or cross-ethnic organizations that unceasingly combat racism and racial discrimination and strive to bring together the different communities in the United States. Thanks to their vigilance and their readiness to protest, the studies they carry out and their capacity to mobilize public opinion, they succeed in influencing government policy and getting Congress to adopt laws against racism and racial discrimination. At the time of the Special Rapporteur's mission, the National Council of the Churches of Christ of the United States and the World Council of Churches were mobilizing public opinion through hearings of witnesses and victims of racism, and the Special Rapporteur has been able to make use of the information thus gathered.
109. Organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Democratic Renewal, the Mexican-American Legal Defense Fund, the American-Arabs Anti-Discrimination Committee, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center and several others provide legal aid to the victims of racism and racial discrimination through their teams of lawyers. Others such as the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee perform an acknowledged monitoring function. The Baha'i community in the United States preaches a message of peace and unity, which is reflected in its education projects and petitions to the President of the United States.
110. Action by community associations frequently converges with that of some municipalities. Thus, the Special Rapporteur was able to appreciate the efforts made by the City of Washington to combat racial discrimination in the economic and social sphere and to eliminate police violence towards members of ethnic minorities. The City of New York has a human rights commission to which anyone whose rights are violated may turn. In Atlanta, there is a commission responsible for inter-community relations, which provides a forum for dialogue and acts as an instrument of mediation, and which concerns itself with finding solutions in the spheres of education, housing, trade, employment and justice.
111. As he comes to the end of his investigation, the Special Rapporteur believes he can say that racism and racial discrimination persist in American society, even if not as a result of a deliberate policy on the part of the United States Government.
112. The Special Rapporteur found sociological inertia, structural obstacles and individual resistance hindering the emergence of an integrated society based on the equal dignity of the members of the American nation and willing to accept ethnic and cultural pluralism. Vested interests, competing influences and the power struggle between the various political and social components of American society also provide opportunities for residual racism and racial discrimination to linger on. Accordingly, the Special Rapporteur makes the following recommendations to the United States Government.
1. It should be explicitly acknowledged that 30 years of intense struggle against racism and racial discrimination have not yet made it possible to eliminate the consequences of over 300 years of slavery and racial discrimination, particularly where African Americans are concerned.
2. It should be recognized that when persons from ethnic minorities aspire to equal treatment, they are not asking for favours, but seeking to enjoy the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution in their daily lives by virtue of their status as full citizens or lawful residents.
3. Affirmative action programmes should be revitalized in order to offset the negative consequences of the policy pursued during the 1980s in the fields of health, housing, education and employment.
4. Measures should be taken to prohibit the establishment of racist organizations and ban racist propaganda.
5. Measures should be taken to abolish the death penalty, or failing that, to eliminate discriminatory application of the penalty.
6. The Government, in conjunction with the State authorities, should ensure that the police do not use violence against persons belonging to ethnic or racial minorities; Congress should adopt laws to permit the criminal prosecution of police officers who use excessive force under the guise of enforcing the law.
7. Effective, and in particular financial, support should be provided for organizations which combat racism and racial discrimination and which work for and contribute to peaceful coexistence between the different communities.
8. Measures should be taken to eliminate racial discrimination against women from ethnic minorities, particularly in terms of employment, wages and access to health care.
9. In the sphere of education, measures should be taken to increase funding for public schools and to ensure the equitable distribution of funds.
10. The media should be encouraged to refrain from propagating stereotypes and to devote themselves to educating the public by disseminating the principles of human rights.
11. Everyone must be persuaded to accept the existence of the indissoluble link between civil and political rights and the economic, social and cultural rights which are their natural corollary. Consequently, the Special Rapporteur urges the United States Government to ratify all the international human rights conventions, as a means of strengthening its foreign policy on behalf of peace and democracy and giving it greater credibility.
12. In addition, there should be more vigorous action on behalf of human rights education, in particular for law-enforcement officials. Such a step would promote greater acceptance of one another by the members of the different communities who live in the United States and would encourage sharing between them in the economic and social or even the cultural spheres. To assume fully, and in a genuine democracy, the cultural pluralism which characterizes the American nation is a challenge which the United States is undoubtedly capable of taking up.
Director of Civil Rights Department
Department of Health and Human Services
and James Lassiter
Immigration and Naturalization Service
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State
Ms. Nancy Ely Rafle
Deputy Secretary of State for Human Rights
Department of State
Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Assistant City Administrator for Economic Development
Office of the Mayor of Washington
Special Assistant to Assistant Attorney General
for Civil Rights
Department of Justice
Deputy Director for Public Affairs
United States Commission on Civil Rights
President African American Human Rights Foundation
Director, Office of External Affairs
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor
Department of State
American Civil Liberties Union
National Black Police Association
Assistant Secretary General
National Spiritual Assembly of Baha'is of
the United States
League of Indigenous Sovereign Nations
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Head of the Eminent Persons Team from the
World Council of Churches Campaign "Racism is a
Violation of Human Rights"
to the United Nations
Mr. Robert Hammel
Law Enforcement Bureau
Ms. Sara E. Vidal
Deputy Commissioner for Community Relations
New York City Commission on Human Rights
Organized by the
International Association Against Torture/
December 12th Movement
Mr. Kenneth Jacobson
Assistant National Director
Ms. Evelyn Summers
World Jewish Congress
Rev. Michael Yasutake
Prisoner of Conscience Project Director
United Church of Christ
Ms. Nozomi Ikuta
United Board for Homeland Ministries
Mr. Charles Lee
United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice
United Methodist Church
Coordinating Board of Jewish Organisations
Meeting with Mr. Ron Daniel
Center for Constitutional Rights
Member of International Human Rights Association of
American Minorities Directorate
Centre for Law and Social Justice
Jacob Blaustein Institute for
the Advancement of Human Rights
Lift Every Voice, Inc.
Consul General of Mexico
Pacific and Asian American Center for
Theology and Strategy
Director, Leadership Development in
Asian Pacific American Legal Center
Community Affairs Assistant
Mexican-American Legal Defense and
Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute
Rabbi Abraham Cooper
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Conflict Resolution and Human Rights Programs
The Carter Center
Center for Democratic Renewal
Southern Organization Committee for
Economic and Social Justice
The Mayor of Atlanta's Office