Children of African descent are ‘not considered children at all’, law experts claim


They said unresolved legacies of trade and human trafficking in enslaved Africans, as well as colonialism, post-colonial apartheid and segregation, continue to harm these children today.

Discrimination, stereotypes and xenophobia

The report of the Working Group on People of African Descent highlights discrimination in areas such as administration of justice, law enforcement, education and health.

It has been presented to the UN General Assembly in New York

“As a result of racial discrimination, racial stereotypes, systemic racial discrimination and xenophobia, children of African descent are not considered children at all,‘, Catherine Namakula, the chair of the working group, told ambassadors.

The report found that children of African descent across the diaspora face more burdensome policing tasks, including increased arrests, police surveillance, racial profiling, house searches and excessive use of force.

In short, “law enforcement is in conflict with children of African descent,” the report said.

stolen youth

The study shows how false racial stereotypes of crime, guilt and dangerousness influence decision-making, including by police officers, prosecutors, lawyers and judges worldwide.

“The childhoods of people of African descent are stolen by persistent racial differences in police and family interventions, including removing children and ending parental rights, and racialized decision-making and outcomes,” the authors said.

The task force stated that it is time to take action to end excessive use of force, extrajudicial killings, inequalities, racial profiling, racial stereotypes and stereotyping, systemic racial discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes.

They called for the creation of a racial justice index to measure progress.

“We have to dismantle discriminatory structures and create political space for dialogue on reparations at international, regional, national and local levels. Only the truth, accountability and justice can eliminate racial discrimination,” said Ms Namakula.

UN cried

The experts also called on the UN and other stakeholders to: stop using images of African children and children of African descent in undignified circumstances, for marketing and fundraising purposes.

They further urged these organizations to address negative stereotypes, adding that: “Children of African descent are not synonymous with poverty”.

In the wake of their January country visit to Switzerland, the task force has welcomed the October 31 decision of the Zurich Supreme Court ordering the release of a young man named “Brian K.”

His story is “a striking example of a stolen childhood and adult identity with stark racial connotations,” they said.

Brian K., now in his mid-20s, was just 10 when he was first arrested on a false charge, UN experts said. He has been in continuous custody or preventive detention since September 28, 2017.

Dominique Day, a member of the task force, contributed an expert racial analysis to the progress of the case this year.

Opportunity for change

“To leave no child behind, you have to address the problems of children of African descent from the margins to the mainstream in the fields of education, health care, social services and children’s rights. Humanity owes the best it can give to every child, without exception,” said Ms. Namakula.

“The lives of children of African descent are humanity’s opportunity to resolutely… stop centuries of marginalization generations of one of the most oppressed groups of people in the world.”

About UN Expert Groups

The expert working group on people of African descent has been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, which is based in Geneva.

In addition to Ms. Namakula and Ms. Day, the other members are Barbara Reynolds, Sushil Raj and Miriam Ekiudoko.

They are not UN personnel and receive no salary for their work.

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