UN rights chief concerned over ‘disproportionate’ killings of African-Americans by US policePrint This Post
The decision by a Grand Jury in Missouri to absolve a police officer for the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager has spotlighted broader concerns about institutionalized discrimination across the United States, the top United Nations human rights official said today.
“I am deeply concerned at the disproportionate number of young African Americans who die in encounters with police officers, as well as the disproportionate number of African Americans in US prisons and the disproportionate number of African Americans on Death Row,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, in a statement issued by his office in Geneva this morning.
“It is clear that, at least among some sectors of the population, there is a deep and festering lack of confidence in the fairness of the justice and law enforcement systems,” Mr. Zeid continued. “I urge the US authorities to conduct in-depth examinations into how race-related issues are affecting law enforcement and the administration of justice, both at the federal and state levels.”
Michael Brown was shot by a white police officer in the US town of Ferguson, in Missouri on 9 August, sparking protests around the country and enflaming the debate surrounding the treatment of African-American men by US law enforcement.
The High Commissioner explained that without knowing the specific details of the evidence laid before the state of Missouri Grand Jury, he remained unable to comment on whether or not the verdict itself conformed to international law. However, he said, continuing reports of deadly encounters between police officers and members of the African-American community had repeatedly prompted concerns among respected national bodies and by UN bodies monitoring the implementation of international human rights treaties.
Mr. Zeid noted that just two weeks ago, Mr. Brown’s parents had addressed the UN Committee against Torture, which is currently reviewing the US application of its obligations under the relevant Convention.
The Grand Jury’s decision last night to not charge the officer, Darren Wilson, comes just three days after another African-American, Tamir Rice, was shot dead by police in Cleveland, in the State of Ohio, because he was holding a non-lethal replica gun. Tamir Rice was 12 years-old.
Mr. Zeid noted that Tamir Rice’s killing not only reiterated the racial disparity in deaths at the hands of US police officers but also placed the issue of gun-related deaths in the US back into focus.
“In many countries, where real guns are not so easily available, police tend to view boys playing with replica guns as precisely what they are, rather than as a danger to be neutralized,” he stated.
Pointing to Article 9 of the UN’s Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Mr. Zeid confirmed that law enforcement officials were called upon to “not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury.”
“In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life,” the High Commissioner concluded.
National / International Reparations Summit
Comunicado Final: La Cumbre Nacional / Internacional de Reparaciones
Listen to WBAI's audio archives of the International Reparations Summit
Media Reports on the National/International Reparations Summit
Press Release: International Black Reparations Summit to Meet in New York
Reparations — A Brief History
Books on Slavery, Capitalism and Reparations
Radio Jingle — Jamaica National Reparations Commission
CARICOM Reparations ten-point plan
Click here for more Reparations Content
Connect With IBW
Martin Luther King/Malcolm X Community Revitalization Initiative
Pan African Unity Dialogue
Immigration Policy Reform
Call to Action
Click to Read Report
Collaborative of progressive, African-centered scholars, think tanks and research centers dedicated to utilizing theoretical and applied research to address issues of vital concern to people of African descent and enhance the development of Black communities.
Haiti Support Project
An Initiative committed to “Building a Constituency for Haiti in the United States,” focusing on mobilizing/organizing African Americans and other people of African descent to strengthen the process of democracy and development in the world’s first Black Republic.