Ghada Waly

Director-General/Executive Director

CCPCJ event on "Addressing and Responding to Racial Discrimination in the Criminal Justice System"

  18 May 2022 


Dear colleagues,

Building a world beyond racism and discrimination, where we can all exercise our human rights without fear or favour, depends on crime prevention and criminal justice institutions that work for everyone.

I therefore welcome this timely event at the 31st Crime Commission, to discuss how we can better address and respond to racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

I would like to begin by thanking our distinguished panellists, as well as our partners at OHCHR for holding this event with UNODC.

Ensuring non-discrimination and equal access to justice for all is an integral component of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, in particular SDG target 16.3.

The UN has further highlighted the importance of promoting and protecting the human rights of people of African descent, building on the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, during the International Decade for People of African Descent launched in 2015.

The Kyoto Declaration adopted at the 14th Crime Congress emphasizes the role that crime prevention and criminal justice institutions play in preventing discrimination, supporting victims’ access to justice, and ending impunity.

In promoting the rule of law, the Declaration highlights the need to ensure equal access to justice and application of the law to all, including vulnerable members of society, regardless of their status, including by taking appropriate measures to ensure treatment with respect, and without discrimination or bias of any kind.

A comprehensive criminal justice approach to addressing racial discrimination must encompass a range of interventions, from promoting access to justice for victims and witnesses of crime motivated by discrimination and hate, to promoting inclusion and representation in criminal justice institutions and professions.

To help implement such inclusive, integrated responses, UNODC is committed to supporting law enforcement and criminal justice institutions that reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.

Our Office offers extensive experience in building capacities and providing training for criminal justice practitioners, as well as in reviewing and enhancing legal frameworks to ensure equal access to justice, and increasing access to legal aid.

Furthermore, UNODC is proud to act as the Criminal Justice Pillar lead for the UN Network on Racial Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

We are also undertaking activities in the field to promote non-discrimination and access to justice. For example, the latest update of the Latin America and the Caribbean Crime Victimization Survey Initiative, led by the UNODC-INEGI Center of Excellence, addresses experiences of discrimination with respect to crime reporting and satisfaction with the police.

In Mexico, UNODC has worked with local partners on an awareness-raising campaign against racism and xenophobia. We also launched a Blue Heart Campaign to target the high prevalence of human trafficking in indigenous communities.

In Brazil, the Office is developing a guide to promote racial equality with respect to electronic monitoring services, alternatives to imprisonment, and the provision of psycho-social assistance to people in custody.

Finally, our office in Colombia has started a project to measure diversity and inclusion in police forces in Latin America, looking at indigenous populations, people of African descent, and migrants.

UNODC stands ready to expand activities to other regions, and support Member States in collecting disaggregated data to support tailored responses against discrimination.

This side event is an opportunity to explore concrete ideas with OHCHR and other partners for stepping up our cooperation and work in the areas of equal access to justice for all and preventing and combating hate crime through policy, tool development and joint programming with a participatory and representative approach.

I thank you once again for joining us today, and I wish you productive discussions.