New York: In criminal justice procedures worldwide, minorities face discrimination ranging from excessive and sometimes lethal use of force, torture by police, to longer periods of stay in pre-trial detention, discrimination during judicial procedures and biases influencing sentencing, according to a UN human rights expert on minority issues.
“The disproportionate targeting by law enforcement officers of individuals for identity checks, stop and search or other forms of coercive or privacy invasive police powers which are related purely to identity-based minority group characteristics, continues to take place around the world,” UN News Centre reported citing Rita Izsák, the UN Special Rapporteur on minority issues.
Presenting her fourth report to UN General Assembly’s Third Committee, the Organization’s main body dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues, Izsák assessed the situation of the human rights of persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities in the various stages of the criminal justice process, from before arrest through to sentencing.
“The Special Rapporteur is alarmed by the many allegations that she has received of human rights violations committed against minorities in the administration of criminal justice, owing to their minority status,” the report said.
“She strongly condemned the practice of racial profiling,” according to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a press release of the report.
“Although remedying the discrimination that minorities face in criminal justice system is not an easy task,” the expert said, “it is paramount that states address the underrepresentation of minorities in law enforcement agencies, including judiciaries, prosecution services and legal professions.”
Saying that measures to eliminate discrimination and ensure equality before the law are more likely to be effective if undertaken with a minority rights-based approach, the report outlined a series of recommendations to address discrimination in the administration of justice.
Izsák was appointed as independent expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council (HRC) in June 2011 and subsequently her mandate was renewed as Special Rapporteur on minority issues in March 2014. She works on a voluntary basis, is not UN staff and does not receive a salary for her work.