19 June 2015 – In the wake of the ‘appalling’ attack that left nine African Americans dead at church in South Carolina, a group of UN human rights experts today called from prompt action by authorities in the United States to investigate the hate crimes and urged measures to prevent gun violence affecting the security of African-Americans, their communities and wider society as well.
Issuing a statement on behalf of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, the current Chairperson, Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, denounced what the experts flagged as racially motivated 17 June killings.
“We utterly condemn the appalling attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina, this week and the killing of nine African Americans,” the experts said, welcoming the “prompt action by the authorities” to investigate the hate crime, underscoring that “every effort must be made to ensure the person guilty of this act is prosecuted and punished accordingly.”
The statement continued: “Urgent measures must be taken to prevent gun violence and racist crimes motivated by prejudice that affect the security of Afro-Americans, their communities and society as a whole.”
The Group’s heartfelt condolences were offered to the people of the United States, “especially the families and friends of those who were murdered while in worship at Church.”
The Working Group, established on 25 April 2002 by the Commission on Human Rights, is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities.
The experts’ comments echo UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s strong condemnation of the killings in a statement issued yesterday by his spokesperson in New York. The UN chief also expressed the hope that those responsible for such a “hateful act of violence” will be brought to justice extended his deep condolences to the loved ones of the victims and his solidarity to the survivors.
US news reports subsequently suggest that a suspect in the murders was arrested yesterday in the neighbouring state of North Carolina.