African countries called on Friday on the United Nations Human Rights Council to urgently debate racism and police brutality amid the unrest in the United States and beyond over George Floyd's death.
In a letter written on behalf of 54 African countries, Burkina Faso's ambassador to the UN in Geneva asked the UN's top rights body for an "urgent debate" on "racially inspired human rights violations, police brutality against people of African descent and the violence against the peaceful protests that call for these injustices to stop", reports Al-Jazeera.
The letter, addressed to rights council president Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger of Austria, requested that this debate be held next week, when the council's 43rd session resumes, after it was interrupted in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The call came after Floyd's family, along with the families of other victims of police violence and more than 600 NGOs this week called on the council to urgently address systemic racism and police impunity in the US.
For the council to consider such a request, it needs to have the backing of at least one country.
With the request now coming from a large group of states, "that increases the chances" it will take place, a council spokesman told AFP.
Friday's letter pointed to the case of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white officer, who has since been charged with murder, pressed his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes.