International Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racist Police Violence on People of African Descent in the United States:
“The purpose of the Commission of Inquiry on Systemic Racial Police Violence is to examine whether widespread and systematic racist violence in policing against people of African descent in the United States of America (U.S.) has resulted in a continuing pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Commissioners find a pattern and practice of racist police violence in the U.S. in the context of a history of oppression dating back to the extermination of First Nations peoples, the enslavement of Africans, the militarization of U.S. society, and the continued perpetuation of structural racism.”
Commissioners call on Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in the Hague to Open Investigation Aimed at Bringing Charges
EXCERPT: Police killings of Black Americans amount to crimes against humanity, international inquiry finds | US policing | The Guardian
Ed Pilkington Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd
April 27, 2021
NEW YORK– A week after the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death, the unabated epidemic of police killings of Black men and women in the US has now attracted scorching international attention.
In a devastating report running to 188 pages, human rights experts from 11 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.
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.
They also call on the prosecutor of the international criminal court (ICC) in The Hague to open an immediate investigation with a view to prosecutions.
“This finding of crimes against humanity was not given lightly, we included it with a very clear mind,” Hina Jilani, 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.”
The report arose directly out of the foment that swept the country in the wake of Floyd’s murder last May. As protests erupted across the nation and around the world, the families of Floyd and other Black people killed by police in recent years petitioned the UN to set up an official inquiry into the shootings.
Under intense pressure from the Trump administration, however, the UN shrank from being drawn into the debate. A coalition of three leading lawyers’ organizations – the US-based National Conference of Black Lawyers and the National Lawyers Guild, and the worldwide International Association of Democratic Lawyers – stepped into the breach, joining forces to stage their own independent inquiry into US police brutality.
A panel of commissioners from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean was assembled to look into police violence, and the structural racism that underpins it. Virtual public hearings were held earlier this year, with testimony from the families of the victims of some of the most notorious police killings in recent times.
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.”
The report gives its own searing figures. 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.
The commissioners make a number of demands on the US government and Congress. They want to see demilitarization of local police forces, and prohibition of no-knock warrants that allow officers to raid the homes of Black people like Breonna Taylor’s without warning and often without cause.
They also want an end to qualified immunity through which police officers avoid civil lawsuits. The commissioners say the loophole “amounts to condoning brutal police violence”.
But the most contentious demand is likely to be the call on the ICC prosecutor to launch an investigation against the US for crimes against humanity.
ABOVE: FULL PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE INT’L COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SYSTEMIC RACIST POLICE VIOLENCE IN UNITED STATES