At UN, ICJ urges action on racist police violence in US and elsewhere

Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today, the ICJ urged action on excessive use of force, including unlawful killings, disproportionately targeting people of African descent and other minorities, by police throughout the United States of America, as well as in other countries.

The statement, delivered during an urgent debate on “current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and the violence against peaceful protest” that was requested by African countries, read as follows:

“Black lives matter.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemns widespread incidents of unlawful and unnecessary use of force, including lethal force, by police throughout the United States of America, disproportionately targeting people of African descent and other minorities.

Many jurisdictions in the United States disregard, in law and in practice, universal standards including under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials. These incorporate the requirements of proportionality and necessity and affirm that lethal force may only be used when strictly unavoidable to protect life. The ICJ is also concerned that doctrines of “qualified immunity” in practice result in impunity for extrajudicial killings and other serious human rights violations by police.  The UN Human Rights Committee and the Committee against Torture, among others, have already called on the US to address these deficiencies in meeting their international legal obligations.

The United States is not alone in such abusive and racially discriminatory practices, which plague countries on every continent. While the Council is rightly giving long overdue attention to the United States, this must not serve as an excuse for any other State to fail to acknowledge and address similar violations within their own jurisdictions.

The ICJ supports calls for an independent international mechanism to address systematic racism in law enforcement in the United States and elsewhere.”

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