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African Countries Call for Debate on Racism at the UN Human Rights Council

FILE - Flags fly outside the United Nations headquarters in New York.
FILE - Flags fly outside the United Nations headquarters in New York.

African countries on Friday called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to organize an urgent debate on racism and police violence, in the context of global mobilization after the death of George Floyd in the United States.

In a letter written on behalf of the 54 countries of the African Group, of which he is coordinator for human rights questions, the ambassador of Burkina Faso to the United Nations in Geneva, Dieudonné Désiré Sougouri, asked the body to the U.N. to organize an "urgent debate on the current racially-inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful demonstrations."

"The tragic events of May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, USA, which resulted in the death of George Floyd, sparked worldwide protests over the injustice and brutality faced by people of African descent daily in many regions of the world,” wrote the ambassador.

"The death of George Floyd is unfortunately not an isolated incident," he wrote, adding that he was speaking on behalf of the representatives and ambassadors of the African Group.

The letter, addressed to the President of the Human Rights Council, Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger of Austria, requests that this debate take place next week, at the resumption of the 43rd session of the Council, interrupted in March due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

The request comes after the family of George Floyd, families of other victims of police violence and more than 600 NGOs called on the Human Rights Council to urgently address the problem of racism and impunity which benefits the police in the United States.

In order for the Council to consider such a request, the approval of at least one country is required.

With the request now coming from a large number of countries, "the chances" that such a debate can take place "increase," a spokesman for the Council told AFP.