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UN rights experts urge US action following racially charged trial

The UN Working Group of Experts of People of African Descent and the UN Special Rapporteur on racism on Tuesday called upon [press release] the US government to finalize its investigation into the case surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin [BBC profile]. The controversial acquittal of George Zimmerman sparked the federal government investigation of the trial to evaluate the evidence and testimony relied on during the proceedings. The experts urge that the investigation should be finalized including an analysis of existing US law to ensure the US is in compliance with its international civil rights obligations. These obligations include those found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [text]. The working group claims this situation exemplifies the need for the US to review its laws that may have a discriminatory effect.

The Zimmerman trial has sparked a wide range of debate in the US, from gun control to racial discrimination. The federal investigation, which began [JURIST report] in June 2012, set out to determine the effect of the stand your ground law [text]. There are some who argue [JURIST comment] that the stand your ground law was not determinative in the case. The role of jury nullification [JURIST comment] has also been discussed by JURIST guest columnist Liz Clark Rinehart.

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