Anti-Black Racism in Canada’s Criminal Justice System: UN

Photo: UNODC
Photo: UNODC

A group of United Nations (UN) human rights experts has expressed serious concerns about systemic anti-Black racism in the criminal justice system in Canada.

“There is clear evidence that racial profiling is endemic in the strategies and practices used by law enforcement,” said Ricardo Sunga, who currently heads the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent. “Arbitrary use of ‘carding’ or street checks disproportionately affects people of African descent,” he added.

“We urge the Government to develop and implement an African Canadian justice strategy to address the anti-Black racism and discrimination within the criminal justice system,” Mr. Sunga stated.

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From 17 to 21 October, a delegation of the Working Group visited Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal to gain first-hand knowledge on racial discrimination, Afrophobia, xenophobia, and related intolerance affecting African-Canadians.

“In our conversation with African Canadians, we found that Canada’s history of enslavement, racial segregation, and marginalization, has had a deleterious impact on people of African descent which must be addressed in partnership with African Canadian communities,” Mr. Sunga stressed.

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The delegation, which also included human rights experts Michal Balcerzak and Ahmed Reid, welcomed ongoing efforts by the new administration to revitalize efforts to address racial discrimination faced by people of African descent and to promote human rights.

“We welcome, among other measures, the recent establishment of the Anti-Racism Directorate to address systemic racism and promote fair practices and policies across Ontario province,” Mr. Sunga said.

The experts also promoted the International Decade for People of African Descent, which runs from 2015 to 2024, and aims both to highlight the contribution of people of African descent to societies and strengthen national, regional and international cooperation to ensure the human rights of people of African descent are respected, protected and fulfilled.

The Working Group will present a report containing its findings and recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council in September 2017.

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Rakesh Raman