The Eric Garner and Michael Brown killings provoked sharp criticism of “racial profiling and the use of disproportionate and often lethal force” from United Nations human rights experts
International law allows the use of lethal force only where it is “absolutely necessary to protect life” but the laws of many States in the US are “much more permissive, creating an atmosphere where there are not enough constraints on the use of force”, the rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions said today.
The killings warrant a comprehensive review of the system, including “the enabling laws, the kinds of weapons the police use, the training they receive, and the use of technology such as on-body cameras to ensure accountability.”
Laws that could have discriminatory impact on African-Americans must be brought in full compliance with America’s “international legal obligations and relevant international standards”.
UN experts on minority issues, racism, people of African descent, the right to peaceful assembly, and on extrajudicial executions voiced deep concern over the broader pattern in decisions not to bring the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner to trial.
“The decisions leave many with legitimate concerns relating to a pattern of impunity when the victims of excessive use of force come from African-American or other minority communities,” a rapporteur on minority issues said. “A trial process would ensure that all the evidence is considered in detail and that justice can take its proper course.”
The on-going investigations into the cases should be completed quickly, including the delivery of justice and reparations for the victims.
A rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism called for eradication of “discriminatory practices including racial profiling by police officers targeting African Americans”, noting that they are 10 times more likely to be pulled over by police officers for minor traffic offences than white persons.
The Brown and Garner cases have added to “our existing concerns over the longstanding prevalence of racial discrimination faced by African-Americans, particularly in relation to access to justice and discriminatory police practices,” said the chief of the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent.
American police should facilitate peaceful demonstrations and refrain from using excessive force against individuals exercising their freedom to protest, added the UN rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.