LONDON (The Guardian) – A UN body wrote to the UK government to express “very extreme concern” about its failure to address “structural, institutional and systemic racism” against people of African descent in Britain.
The UN working group of experts on people of African descent called for an immediate and unconditional moratorium on the use of joint enterprise, warning it was leading to the disproportionate imprisonment of black adolescents.
In the damning interim findings that concluded a 10-day fact-finding mission, the experts also called for an immediate moratorium on the use of strip searches during stop and searches by police.
“We have serious concerns about impunity and the failure to address racial disparities in the criminal justice system, deaths in police custody, ‘joint enterprise’ convictions and the dehumanizing nature of the stop and (strip) search,” the working group said in a statement.
The UN added that UK austerity measures had exacerbated racism and racial discrimination for people of African descent, which had an adverse impact on their fundamental rights.
Speaking at a press conference in London, Dominique Day, one of the five members of the UN working group, said, “I’ve never visited a country before where there is a culture of fear pervading black communities – relating to a range of asylum, residency, policing issues. An entire community experiences constant and ongoing human rights violations as a routine and normalized part of daily life.”
Officials said they had had a “robust” discussion about their preliminary research with the UK Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch. A 19-page summary of recommendations was sent to the government on Friday.
The working group noted the continuing fallout from the Windrush scandal.
“The experience of the Windrush generation has left a deep scar on the collective psyche of people of African descent in the UK,” the UN investigator Barbara Reynolds said.
She said elderly people had been forced to confront “deeply troubling” questions about their identity and were made to question “‘who am I, where do I belong? Why am I here? How did I get here, what happens next?’”
The report also raises concern about maternal and infant mortality.
“Black healthcare professionals have cited the pervasive racism and discrimination across maternal and infant childcare that have resulted in relatively high mortality levels,” the findings note.