UN watchdog slams police shootings of blacks in US


GENEVA: A UN watchdog on Friday (Saturday in Manila) slammed police shootings of blacks in the United States, days after a decision not to prosecute a white officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen sparked nationwide protests.

With tensions still running high after Monday’s decision by a Missouri grand jury not to charge a white policeman who shot dead 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9, the UN Committee Against Torture published conclusions from its review earlier this month of the US record.

Brown’s parents had been present at the hearing on November 12 and 13 in Geneva to discuss their son’s case with the committee members.

“The committee is concerned about numerous reports of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups,” the 10-member committee said in its report.

It also lamented “racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities.”

Alessio Bruni, one of the top investigators on the committee, told reporters in Geneva the members had voiced “deep concern at the frequent and recurring police shootings in fatal pursuit of unarmed black individuals.”

The committee, which periodically reviews the records of the 156 countries that have ratified the Convention Against Torture, lamented that the large delegation of high-level US officials who came to Geneva to defend the US record had provided little data on police brutality and investigations into such abuses.

It urged Washington to ensure that all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force are “investigated promptly, effectively and impartially”, that perpetrators be brought to justice and that victims receive effective remedies.

“We have certain concerns about whether investigations are … thoroughly completed and whether punishment of law-enforcement when they have crossed the line are effectively put in place,” said another of the panel’s top investigators, Jens Modvig.

The committee also highlighted excessive use of taser guns by police, an issue that had prompted protests at the hearing earlier this month.

It said it was “concerned about numerous, consistent reports that police have used electrical discharge weapons against unarmed individuals who resist arrest or fail to comply immediately with commands, suspects fleeing minor crime scenes or even minors.”

Taser guns are weapons that deliver electric shocks and are popular with authorities because they are supposed to be nonlethal, but activists say the devices have caused more than 500 deaths in the United States.

The US delegation had assured the committee that they have put in place guidelines for the use of tasers aimed at avoiding accidents, but Bruni told AFP “apparently this is not enough.”

The committee urged Washington to ensure that police use tasers “exclusively in extreme and limited situations, where there is a real and immediate threat to life or risk of serious injury.”

It also called for a ban on using the weapons on minors and pregnant women.

“There are far too many accidents,” Bruni said.

After its first review of the United States since 2006 and the first since President Barack Obama came to power, the committee also raised a range of issues ranging from torture at CIA “black sites”, to continued detention at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, prisoner abuse, and detention of illegal immigrants.

The committee hailed efforts to end a range of past abuses during the so-called “War on Terror” under the previous administration of George W. Bush, including a clear ban on so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding.

But it urged Washington to close Guantanamo, and voiced concern over “the ongoing failure to fully investigate allegations of torture and ill-treatment of suspects held in US custody abroad.”



Please follow our commenting guidelines.


  1. Frank A. Tucker on

    Remember when white people rioted in the streets of the USA when OJ Simpson was acquitted ? Me either !

    The sad fact is: black people in the USA do commit far more crimes than whites do. The crime rate of black-on-black is approximately 100 times greater than white-on-black and 10% higher than white-on-white. The single black unwed motherhood rate is 75% higher than the non-black families.

    Whenever a e policeman kills a black perpetrator it makes national news, when a black kills a white policeman it is buried in the back pages of the local news paper.

    There ARE valid reasons for most of the shootings of blacks by the policemen & policewomen of the police forces on the USA. BTW: A very high percentage of these policemen & women involved in these alleged shootings ARE black themselves.

  2. A very large official US delegation to defend US human rights records? How come only Brown’s parents were invited? Why not invite hundreds if not thousands of victims of US police brutality and relatives of those killed? Why not invite inmates of Guantanamo who are still being tortured? Why not invite victims of US drone attacks? Why not invite Palestinians who are victims of US weapons given to israel? Why not invite slave laborers in 3rd world countries where US neo-liberal policies are imposed by force? Why not invite invite Julian Assange and Edward Snowden? Why not let the other side speak?