US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the State Department in Washington. File picture: Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the State Department in Washington. File picture: Yuri Gripas/Pool via AP

US Secretary of State calls UN rights body 'a haven for dictators'

By The Associated Press Time of article published Jun 20, 2020

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Frankfurt, Germany - US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said the decision by the UN's top human rights body to commission a report on policing and race amid international protests spurred by George Floyd's death “marks a new low” and confirmed the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Human Rights Council in 2018.

The council agreed Friday in Geneva to commission a UN report on systemic racism and discrimination against Black people while stopping short of ordering a more intensive investigation singling out the United States. Floyd, a handcuffed Black man, died last month after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes even after he stopped moving and pleading for air.

In response, Pompeo on Saturday described the Human Rights Council as “a haven for dictators and the democracies that indulge them” and said the council should focus its attention elsewhere.

"If the Council were serious about protecting human rights, there are plenty of legitimate needs for its attention, such as the systemic racial disparities in places like Cuba, China, and Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement Saturday.

Floyd's relatives, families of other victims of US police violence and hundreds of advocacy groups urged the Human Rights Council to take up the issue.

A delegate from Senegal is seen on a TV screen delivering a speech during a vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The UN's top human rights body has voted unanimously to commission a UN report on systemic racism and discrimination against blacks. Picture: Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via AP

The Human Rights Council approved a consensus resolution following days of grappling over language after African nations backed away from their initial push for a commission of inquiry, the council’s most intrusive form of scrutiny focusing more on the US.

Instead, the resolution mentions historic racism in the US but only calls for a more generic report to be written by the UN human rights chief’s office and outside experts.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with Ethiopia's Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, during a joint press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa in February. File picture: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Pool Photo via AP

The aim is “to contribute to accountability and redress for victims” in the US and beyond, the resolution states.

AP

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