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9 Jun, 2020 04:13

Family of George Floyd, activist groups demand UN probe into US police brutality & human rights ‘crisis’

Family of George Floyd, activist groups demand UN probe into US police brutality & human rights ‘crisis’

The families of George Floyd and others slain by law enforcement have joined the ACLU and hundreds of other activist groups in urging the UN Human Rights Council to convene an urgent meeting to address police violence in the US.

The victims’ families – which include those of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and Philando Castile, who were all killed at the hands of police – made a joint call with the ACLU and some 600 rights groups on Monday. In a statement, they asked the UN’s top human rights body to give “international scrutiny” to the police brutality issue and the “repression of protests” sparked by Floyd’s killing in late May.

“I want people across the world and the leaders in the United Nations to see the video of my brother George Floyd, to listen to his cry for help, and I want them to answer his cry,” Floyd’s brother, Philonese, said in the ACLU statement, referring to shocking footage of the fatal arrest in Minneapolis.

I want to appeal to the United Nations to help him. Help me. Help us. Help black men and women in America.

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Questions remain about how quickly such a meeting could be held, given that the UN body was forced to call off its last session in March over fears of Covid-19, planning its second of three yearly sessions sometime in June. At least one-third of the Human Rights Council’s 47 members would have to approve the special session before it could be called; no vote has yet been held. The problem is further compounded by the Swiss government’s coronavirus containment policies, which still bar gatherings of more than 300 people, complicating any future meetings in Geneva.

The families and rights groups have demanded an independent probe into police killings of unarmed black Americans in recent years, in addition to “violent law enforcement responses to protests.” Following Floyd’s killing, heated demonstrations across all 50 US states have frequently descended into riots, looting and arson, with local authorities calling in National Guard troops and police reinforcements in a number of cities to quell the unrest – at times inflicting violence on peaceful protesters and journalists in the process.

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“It’s time the United States face the same scrutiny and judgment it is quick to pass on to other countries,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU’s human rights program.

As communities in the United States call on their leaders to divest from policing and end structural racism, the United Nations must support these domestic demands by holding the United States accountable for its human rights violations.

Washington pulled out of the Human Rights Council in 2018, insisting the body had a “well-documented bias against Israel” and counted “authoritarian governments” among its members.

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