UN Panel: U.S. Owes Black People Reparations for History of Slavery

© AFP/File Fabien Offner
AFP/File Fabien Offner

A United Nations-affiliated group in Geneva is calling for the U.S. to give African Americans reparations for the country’s history of slavery, according to a recent report by the group.

The group’s statement was part of a study by the United Nations’ Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, a group that reports to the international organization’s High Commissioner on Human Rights, The Washington Post reported.

The group of experts, made up of leading human rights lawyers from around the world, presented its findings about the link between the U.S.’s history of slavery and present injustices, such as the recent police shootings of African Americans to the United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday.

“In particular, the legacy of colonial history, enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism and racial inequality in the United States remains a serious challenge, as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent,” the report stated. “Contemporary police killings and the trauma that they create are reminiscent of the past racial terror of lynching.”

The panel said that the police shootings of African Americans during the past year have caused a “human rights crisis” that is in urgent need of addressing and compared the recent shootings to the acts of lynchings by white supremacists in the late 1800s.

The group said the reparations could come in a variety of forms, such as “a formal apology, health initiatives, educational opportunities, … psychological rehabilitation, technology transfer and financial support, and debt cancellation.”

Ricardo A. Sunga, one of the panel members who was asked about the presidential race in the United States, talked about “hate speech … xenophobia (and) Afrophobia” prevalent in the race, but did not call out any candidates by name.

The reparations, however, are unlikely to occur since the group’s recommendations are non-binding and unlikely to influence policy in the United States.


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