Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Human Rights V. The USA

 In a devastating report running to 188 pages, human rights experts from eleven countries hold the US accountable for what they say is a long history of violations of international law that rise in some cases to the level of crimes against humanity.

The systematic killing and maiming of unarmed African Americans by police amount to should be investigated and prosecuted under international law with a for the International Criminal Court prosecutor to open an immediate investigation.

They point to what they call “police murders” as well as “severe deprivation of physical liberty, torture, persecution and other inhuman acts” as systematic attacks on the Black community that meet the definition of such crimes.

The commission’s report puts the human impact of systemic discrimination against African Americans in stark terms. It says that the US is operating two systems of law.

“One is for white people, and another for people of African descent,” it said.

Hina Jilani, president of the World Organisation Against Torture, one of the 12 commissioners who led the inquiry, told the Guardian. “We examined all the facts and concluded that that there are situations in the US that beg the urgent scrutiny of the ICC.”

Among its other findings, the commission accuses the US of:

  • 1. violating its international human rights obligations, both in terms of laws governing policing and in the practices of law enforcement officers, including traffic stops targeting Black people and race-based stop and frisk;

  • 2. tolerating an “alarming national pattern of disproportionate use of deadly force not only by firearms but also by Tasers” against Black people;

  • 3. operating a “culture of impunity” in which police officers are rarely held accountable while their homicidal actions are dismissed as those of just “a few bad apples”.

Jilani told the Guardian that as a native of Pakistan who has participated in many UN investigations probing human rights abuses, she is familiar with accounts of extreme brutality by law enforcement. “But even I found the testimonies we heard in the US extremely distressing. I was taken aback that this country, which claims to be a global champion of human rights, itself fails to comply with international law.”

She added that as she listened to relatives of police shooting victims relate their stories, “it became clear that this was no longer an account of individual trauma, it was an account of trauma inflicted on a whole section of the US population.” 

 Unarmed Black people are almost four times as likely as their white equivalents to be killed by police. Since 2005, about 15,000 people have been killed by law enforcement – a rate of about 1,000 every year. During that same period only 104 police officers have been charged with murder or manslaughter in relation to the incidents, and of those only 35 were convicted of any crime.

US police killings of Black Americans amount to crimes against humanity, international inquiry finds | US policing | The Guardian

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