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HRC54: Fighting systemic racism in the United Kingdom

At HRC54, INQUEST and ISHR delivered a joint statement highlighting State-related deaths of Africans and African descendants due to systemic racism in the United Kingdom, and calling for adequate investigation and resources for welfare, health, housing, education and social care.

The Interactive Dialogue with the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (WGEPAD) aimed to engage in the discussion about the mechanism’s remarks and observations around the situation of people of African Descent during their most recent visit to the United Kingdom.

Barbara G. Reynolds, chairperson of the Working Group, drew attention to the need for ‘increased visibility and active and meaningful participation in all spheres: political, civil, economic, social and cultural life in every country, through investment in policies, positive programs, repair structures and systems and an enabling environment that protects activists and advocates of and for people of African descent.’

In a joint statement, INQUEST director Deborah Cole underscored the role of racial stereotyping in the excessive use of force and neglect of Black people’s mental and physical well-being. Deborah Cole also expressed the need for short and long-term initiatives to end the injustice of contentious deaths.

Find the video and the written statement below.

Thank you, President.  This is a joint statement.

This is a joint statement by ISHR and INQUEST. INQUEST, the only charity in the UK which supports bereaved families following a State-related death, sees the impact of structural racism across our work, from deaths in custody to the preventable Grenfell Tower Fire. We view these deaths within the broader context of systems in the UK which maintain racial inequalities and discrimination against Black people. Black people die disproportionately following police contact and are over-represented in the prison estate. They are also more likely to be detained in mental health settings and subject to the use of force.

These deaths consistently expose the impact of racism and racial stereotyping resulting in inhumane treatment, excessive use of force, and neglect of Black people’s mental and physical well-being. Our work evidences a stark failure to examine the potential role of racism in investigations into State-related deaths of people of African descent rendering it invisible.

To end the continued injustice of contentious deaths, in the short term, all post-death investigations should meaningfully consider the potential role of racism or discrimination in the deaths of people of African descent. In the long term we must divest resources from the criminal justice system to communities and to adequately resourced welfare, health, housing, education, and social care.

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