Helsinki Commission Chairman Hastings, Commissioners Moore, Cleaver, and Veasey Lead Call for Comprehensive Action to Address Anti-Black Racism Abroad
In a bicameral letter to the President of the European Commission, Helsinki Commission Chairman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) joined the Black members of the Helsinki Commission, Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), and Marc Veasey (D-TX), in leading 35 other Members of the United States Congress, including the Congressional Black Caucus Chair and other Helsinki Commissioners, in calling for a sweeping plan of action following the European Parliament’s Juneteenth Day resolution supporting protests against racism and police brutality. The letter also urges an immediate inquiry into an altercation involving a Black Member of the European Parliament and a Belgian police officer. (The letter text can be found below and attached)
“Since convening the 2009 Black European Summit at the European Parliament, it is heartening to see the growing solidarity of this resolution and the opportunity it presents for joint U.S.-EU commitments to end systemic racism,” said Helsinki Commission Chairman Alcee Hastings.
“I am encouraged by the European Parliament’s resolution supporting protests against racism and police brutality. I would like to see these efforts built upon with meaningful and comprehensive action that addresses the widespread racism and discrimination Black Europeans and people of African descent experience on a day-to-day basis,” said Helsinki Commissioner Gwen Moore.
“I applaud the European Parliament’s resolution that denounces anti-black racism and police brutality,” said Helsinki Commissioner Marc Veasey. “We must work together as a global community to create comprehensive solutions that will finally dismantle the systemic oppression that has caused too many Black and Brown lives to be lost.”
“Recently, we have seen a troubling rise in racism and police brutality around the world,” said Helsinki Commissioner Emanuel Cleaver. “I’m comforted to see the European Parliament and the people of Europe standing with Americans as we seek to abolish the systemic racism that has plagued our planet for far too long. As we stand united in the face of this age-old foe, now is the time for concrete action to root out racism in every corner of the globe.”
July 8, 2020
Ms. Ursula von Der Leyen
As in the United States, the 15 million persons who make up populations of Black Europeans and People of African Descent in Europe, have been victims of police brutality and harassment, including unexplained deaths of individuals in police custody. Moreover, the European Union’s own Fundamental Rights Agency in 2018 found almost a third of People of African Descent had experienced racial harassment in the five years before with the report claiming that racial discrimination is “commonplace” in the 12 European countries sampled.
We have focused on these issues in the United States Congress through hearings, legislation, multilateral events, and initiatives, including within the European Union. We acknowledge that the European Union has passed legislation such as the Race Equality Directive to prohibit racism and discrimination. We also welcome the European Parliament’s resolutions on “Anti-Racism protests following the death of George Floyd” on 19th June 2020 and “The Fundamental Rights of People of African Descent in 2019” in March 2019.
We are also pleased to see that EU Commissioner Dalli will lead on the development of an action plan to address racial discrimination and Afrophobia. However, we are concerned by the possibility of limited implementation by Member States and European Institutions and by the absence of a unit or coordinator in the European Commission addressing anti-Black racism or Afrophobia--especially following the People of African Descent Week in the European Parliament and other events where civil society groups of Afro-Descendants in Europe expressly requested these positions to improve the human rights situation for their communities.
In addition to appointing a coordinator and/or unit focused on anti-Black racism, we call on you to push for the comprehensive implementation of the resolutions and the recommendations in the letter initiated by MEPs Dr Pierrette Herzberger Fofana, Alice Bah Kunke, and Monica Semedo to:
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Vice-Chairman of the House Rules Committee, Chairman of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.
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