FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2008
CONTACT: The National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights - Tanene Allison (212) 244-4664
The National Campaign To Restore Civil Rights Reports On U.S. Violations of an International Treaty: Decrease of Effective Remedies and Access to the Courts To Enforce Civil Rights Violations
NEW YORK, NY- February 20 –
Today, The National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights (NCRCR) testified in Geneva at the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), bringing attention to the U.S. government’s failure to comply with its treaty obligations requiring it to ensure the availability of effective remedies for civil rights violations. NCRCR joined other civil society groups, in criticizing the U.S. government’s rollback of civil rights in the courts and submitted a “shadow” report to the Committee, documenting treaty violations that the U.S. ignored in its own report to the UN.
NCRCR joins with the U.S. Human Rights Network, which coordinated the presentations of the non-governmental organizations, in charging the U.S. government with failing to comply with its obligations under a treaty that carries the force of law in the United States, with whitewashing the reality of racial inequality in America, and with severely decreasing access to the courts and effective remedies to enforce civil rights violations.
“The failure of the U.S. government to ensure that people have access to justice through the courts constitutes a flagrant violation of international human rights law,” said Cristóbal Josh Alex, Campaign Coordinator and NCRCR envoy to the Committee.
“CERD requires that the U.S. provide access to court for those discriminated against because of their race. But because the courts have shifted to the right, countless people find the courthouse doors closed,” said Eva Paterson of the San Francisco-based Equal Justice Society.
CERD is an international treaty designed to protect individuals from discrimination based on race, whether that discrimination is intentional, or is the result of seemingly neutral practices. Every four years, countries that have ratified the treaty, as the U.S. did in 1994, must report to the Committee. The U.S. State Department submitted its report in April 2007.
Key issues highlighted in NCRCR’s testimony in Geneva include:
• Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, two critical laws designed to protect people against racial discrimination, have been grossly undermined by recent Supreme Court cases, thereby leaving tens of thousands of people without protection from racial discrimination.
• The federal government can step in and protect people in the U.S. from racial discrimination. But its civil rights enforcement work is scant and insufficient, thereby leaving people in the United States without adequate remedies to address rights violations.
• Last term the Supreme Court held that a woman discriminated against by receiving less pay than her male colleagues couldn't sue because she hadn't filed a complaint within 180 days of the decision to pay her less than the men – even though she had no way of knowing the company was paying her less until she got an anonymous tip many years later. President Bush has promised to veto any legislation that aims to correct this ruling.
To view a copy of the shadow report prepared by the National Campaign to Restore Civil Rights, please visit our site.