Despite the Equality Act 2010, people of African descent residing in the UK still face discrimination. During the last week of September, the UN expert group on people of African descent examined the position of people of African descent within the UK. The expert group, chaired by Jamaican historian and gender specialist, Professor Verene Shepherd, criticized the current situation in the UK and the response to it by the British government. The group urged the UK government to take action to diminish racial discrimination. "Despite the large amount of detailed data which highlight inequality faced by people of African descent, it does not appear as if the government acts fully on this evidence." Ms. Shepherd stated.
The results of the group show that people of African descent are discriminated against in many sectors of society. Areas of particular concern include deaths in custody, disproportionate stop-and-search statistics, over-representation of young black men in the criminal justice system and differential treatment within the mental health services. "Many sections of the [criminal justice] system have a biased approach towards people of African descent which leads to their higher presence in prisons." Ms. Shepherd said. Also in terms of education and career opportunities people of African descent face discrimination. Moreover, the group expressed its concerns about the consequences of the financial crises for people of African descent. "Responses to the crisis must not lead to a situation which would potentially give rise to racial discrimination against people of African descent and exacerbate their already precarious economic condition," Ms. Shepherd stressed.
A complete and detailed report on the observations of the expert group will be presented in September 2013.
The working group on people of African descent was established by the Commission on Human Rights in 2002 following the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action adopted in 2001. In this document States commit to work together to eradicate racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. It is a comprehensive and action-oriented road map, offering a functional common approach to realize the principles of equality and non-discrimination.
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