Statement by John F. Sammis, Deputy Representative to ECOSOC, during the Third Committee General Discussion on Agenda Item 66: "Elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance"

John F. Sammis
United States Deputy Representative to ECOSOC 
New York, NY
November 1, 2010




AS DELIVERED

The United States Government strongly supports the elimination of racial discrimination at home and abroad. We recognize that the history of the United States reflects challenges, struggles, and on-going progress.

On Friday, November 5 the United States will participate in the Universal Periodic Review process in Geneva. In the context of our preparation, we have traveled around the United States and listened to Americans discuss the challenges they face in realizing their human rights. It is clear that we have come a long way in addressing historic injustices, however there is still more to be done. The United States is committed to continuing on the path to a world free from injustice and we continue to make progress in this area.

To that end, President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Protection Act of 2009, which expands protections under the federal hate crimes statute and removes barriers to prosecution. As we all know, hate crimes victimize not just individuals, but entire communities. The passage of this legislation gives our Justice Department and state and local law enforcement important tools and increased capacity that they need to deter and prosecute these acts of violence. In addition to efforts to implement this new law and train attorneys and law enforcement officers in its enforcement, the Criminal Section of the Civil Rights Division has increased its filing of hate crime cases under its previous authority.

The United States has undertaken considerable efforts to provide outreach and training in order to improve the cultural competency of law enforcement officers, including immigration officials. By increasing knowledge of different customs, beliefs, and practices, these agencies are acting to avoid unprofessional and unlawful conduct based on lack of knowledge or misunderstanding. Providing such education, training and technical assistance to various federal law enforcement agencies is a critical component in preventing and addressing the inappropriate use of race, ethnicity or religion by law enforcement officers.

We believe the United Nations must continue to address the issue of race and racism, and the United States will work with all peoples and nations to build greater resolve and enduring political will to halt racism and racial discrimination wherever they occur.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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PRN: 2010/259