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UN rights committee criticizes US leadership for failure to unequivocally reject race-related violence

[JURIST] The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) [official website] requested [Press release] that the US government, high-level politicians and public officials "unequivocally and unconditionally reject and condemn racist hate speech and crimes in Charlottesville and throughout the country." Although the committee did not call out President Donald Trump by name, it specified that the response to Charlottesville was a "failure at the highest political level." The committee also requested that the US ensure the constitutional rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly are not used to promote racist hate speech and racist crimes. CERD monitors the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [Text], which the United States ratified in 1994.

The violence in Charlottesville occurred on August 12 when a "Unite the Right" rally took place to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the recently renamed Emancipation Park. The rally drew members of white nationalist groups who marched through the streets of Charlottesville the night before carrying torches and chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans. Counter-protesters clashed with these groups during the protest, and 34 were injured. In addition, two state troopers were killed on the same day when the helicopter they were using to monitor the protests crashed. Earlier this month, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a federal civil rights investigation [JURIST report] into the violence.

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