Full text: Human Rights Record of the United States in 2016
March 09,2017 By:Xinhua
Racial discrimination is strongly condemned by the United Nations. After conducting investigations across the United States from January 9 to 29 of 2016, the UN Human Rights Council's Expert Group on People of African Descent expressed serious concerns about the police killings, the presence of police in schools, violence targeting the African American community with impunity, racial bias in the criminal justice system, and mass incarceration and the criminalization of poverty which disproportionately affects African Americans. Ms. Mireille France, who currently heads the UN Expert Group, stressed, "The persistent gap in almost all the human development indicators, such as life expectancy, income and wealth, level of education, housing, employment and labor, and even food security, among African Americans and the rest of the U.S. population, reflects the level of structural discrimination that creates de facto barriers for people of African descent to fully exercise their human rights (www.un.org, January 29, 2016). The Expert Group's investigative report pointed out, the U.S. government failed to fulfill its obligations of protecting the rights of Americans of African descent and that systematic and structural racism continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of African Americans today. The report particularly criticized police killings and racial bias in the criminal justice system. A large amount of cases prove that violence and overuse of lethal forces exist in law enforcement processes and these behaviors are mostly exempted from criminal punishment. "Police killings and the trauma it creates are reminiscent of the 'racial terror and lynching' of the past. Impunity for state violence has resulted in the current human rights crisis and must be addressed as a matter of urgency." According to the report, police killings of unarmed Americans of African Descent are only one tip of the iceberg of the widespread racial discrimination in the justice system. The incarceration rate for African American males is 5.9 times higher than the rate for white males, while the rate for African American females is 2.1 times higher than the rate for white females. African Americans only constitute 14 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 36 percent of federal and state prisoners. African Americans are regarded as dangerous criminal groups since childhood and face presumption of guilt. African Americans are more likely to face serious criminal punishments than white Americans, particularly on capital punishment. The report pointed out that African Americans are also in seriously unequal situations on education, medical care, housing, and employment. Twenty-six percent (more than 10 million) of African Americans remain mired in poverty and 12 percent live in what is known as "deep poverty." In 2015, of the more than half a million homeless people in the United States, African Americans constituted 40.4 percent (www.un.org, August 18, 2016).
V. Women, Children, Elders' Rights Lack Proper Protection
The situation of protection of rights of women, children and elders in the United States was worrisome in 2016. Women were paid much less compared to their male colleagues who do the same work, and they frequently fell victims to sexual harassment and assault. Poverty rate among children remained high and cases of elder abuse happened from time to time.
Gender pay gaps remained large. Women were paid much less compared to their male colleagues who do the same work in 2016 (www.washingtonpost.com, March 8, 2016). An analysis found women with city government jobs in New York made 18 percent less than men (http://www.nydailynews.com, April 11, 2016). Gender pay gap among supervisor staff in San Diego was even wider. Women who work for San Diego County supervisors earned about 37,000 U.S. dollars less in pre-tax pay per year on average (www.sandiegouniontribune.com, August 14, 2016). Women comprised about 60 percent of California workers earning minimum wage or less, according to a review of federal labor statistics by the National Women's Law Center (www.sandiegouniontribune.com, April 10, 2016).