A UN report looking at racial justice after George Floyd’s murder has called on member states, including the UK, to end the “impunity” enjoyed by police officers who violate the human rights of blacks.
The UN human rights office’s analysis of 190 deaths around the world led to the report’s damning conclusion that law enforcement officials are rarely responsible for killing black people due in part to flawed investigations and lack of accountability. Willingness to recognize the impact of structural racism.
The 23-page global report, and the accompanying 95-page conference room document, presents seven examples of police deaths, including the case of Kevin Clarke, who died after being pinned down by officers in London in 2018.
A jury in the investigation of Clarke, who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2002, found that inappropriate use of restraints by police contributed to his death.
Other case studies include Luana Barbosa dos Reis Santos and João Pedro Matos Pinto in Brazil; George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in the United States; Janner García Palomino in Colombia; and Adama Traoré in France.
In June 2020, the UN Human Rights Office was commissioned to produce a comprehensive report on systemic racism against blacks. The report investigated violations of international human rights law by law enforcement agencies, government responses to peaceful protests against racism, as well as the accountability and reparation of victims. The report was led by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former President of Chile.
Bachelet described the status quo as “unsustainable.” She said: “Systemic racism needs a systemic response. There must be a comprehensive, rather than piecemeal, approach to dismantling systems rooted in centuries of discrimination and violence. We need a transformative approach that addresses the interconnected areas that drive racism and lead to repeated, fully preventable tragedies, such as the death of George Floyd.
“I call on all states to stop denying and begin to dismantle racism; end impunity and build trust; listen to the voices of Afro-descendants; and deal with past legacies and offer reparation. “
The analysis was based on online consultations with more than 340 people, most of them Afro-descendants; more than 110 written contributions; a review of publicly available material; and additional consultations with relevant experts.
Examining deaths in police custody in different countries, the report finds “striking similarities” and patterns, including in the obstacles families face in accessing justice. The report notes that the mosaic of available data paints “an alarming picture of system-wide disproportionate and discriminatory impacts on people of African descent in their encounters with law enforcement and the criminal justice system in some states.”
Many of the families “felt continually betrayed by the system” and spoke of “a profound lack of trust,” says the report, adding that “it often falls to the victims and families to fight for accountability without the support suitable”.
“Several families described to me the agony they faced in seeking truth, justice and reparation, and the harrowing assumption that their loved ones somehow ‘deserved it,'” Bachelet said. “It is discouraging that the system is not stepping up to support them. This must change. “
Investigations, prosecutions, trials and court decisions often fail to take into account the role that racial discrimination, stereotypes and institutional biases may have played in deaths in custody, the report adds.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism