UN racism probe would be 'ridiculous,' US official says

A man stands outside a burned Wendy's restaurant in Atlanta, where police shot dead Rayshard Brooks in the parking lot, setting off protests -- the US is against a possible racism inquiry by the UN Human Rights Council (AFP Photo/CHANDAN KHANNA)

Washington (AFP) - A UN inquiry into US racism would be "ridiculous," a US official said Tuesday, voicing disappointment in ally South Africa for promoting the idea.

The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva is due Wednesday to discuss racism after a joint call by African nations, following worldwide horror over a white Minneapolis police officer's killing of unarmed African American George Floyd.

A draft resolution calls for an international commission of inquiry into systemic racism in the United States -- a high-level probe generally reserved for conflict zones such as Syria.

"I think it's a ridiculous idea," a senior State Department official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

He pointed out that four officers have been charged in Floyd's killing and that the state of Minnesota televises trials, saying "it doesn't get more transparent than that."

He said the United States would take a "hard look" on whether to cooperate with the commission if it were established.

"I would certainly want to impose some ground rules. You can go find whatever facts you want to find, but let's make sure we agree that we have an opportunity to participate in the process," the official said.

"We in the United States are not afraid to acknowledge bad things that happen. We're not afraid to acknowledge the fact that racial discrimination happens," he said.

"What we're saying is that we want the same standards applied to everybody else that get applied to us."

President Donald Trump's administration pulled the United States out of the council two years ago, saying it was biased against Israel and pointing to the inclusion of nations with dubious records such as Venezuela and Eritrea.

The State Department official said that South Africa, which is not currently on the council, played a leading role in pushing the racism debate.

"We try to maintain very good relationships with the South Africans, and I have to say we're a little disappointed in what they're doing here," the official said.

"If we started talking about what their police do -- I mean, you know, for heaven's sake!"

South Africa has championed racial equality and reconciliation since the fall of the racist apartheid regime.