By Victor Omondi
A group of eminent international human rights lawyers on Wednesday stated that they’ll petition the United Nations on behalf of Black refugees who’ve been discriminated against while attempting to flee Ukraine.
Ben Crump, a human rights lawyer who represented the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and lawyer Jasmine Rand, who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, are among the members of the group. Peter Herbert, one of Britain’s few non-white judges; G. Anthony Hylton, a Jamaican Member of Parliament; Jacqueline McKenzie, a British solicitor; and Carlos Moore, head of the National Bar Association in the United States. They intend to petition to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination of the United Nations.
Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, both pointed out earlier this week that some Africans fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine had faced discrimination at the country’s borders.
“Such blatant racism cannot be tolerated,” Zita Holbourne, the chairwoman of the Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts U.K. told The Independent. “Human rights of Black and brown people, predominantly students situated in Ukraine, must be honored and safe exit facilitated for all, free of discriminatory selection processes at borders. The targeting of Black and brown people in this way is a racist human rights abuse on top of a human rights crisis impacting all people forced to flee Ukraine.”
The lawyers’ statement was applauded by Robert A. Sanders, a retired US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps captain and a legal and national security professor at the University of New Haven.
“It’s totally appropriate,” Sanders told NBC News. “Filippo Grandi, the U.N. high commissioner for refugees, issued statements to Russia about its human rights activities during its attack on Ukraine. And so, it is completely appropriate for that same body to examine what Ukraine is doing, which, while sad, is not surprising because we live in a world that has structures and systemic pieces built up over centuries that make Black and brown people less than.”