A United Nations panel on torture has condemned the United States for police brutality in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson. The U.N. Committee Against Torture presented their findings after hearings that lasted over the course of two days in Geneva. The committee which monitors compliance with the rules of the international treaty which bans not only cruel treatment but also torture, says that the U.S. needs to make a number of changes in order to bring the countries practices and policies in line with the treaty.
Among the concerns that the United Nations committee cited were the use of solitary confinement in the country’s prison system and the shooting of unarmed African-Americans by law enforcement. Another major issue addressed at the panel was the failure to completely investigate allegations of torture during the time of George W. Bush’s administration. The committee on Friday said that the U.S. needs to adjust their domestic law enforcement practices as well as security policies in an effort to bring them in line with the international treaty.
One of the panel members, Alessio Bruni spoke to reporters after the 16-page document detailing the committee’s recommendations and findings was released. The report criticizes the excessive use of force as well as racial profiling that is often used by law enforcement. Although the Ferguson case is not specifically mentioned in the report, the report to does touch on issues that have been raised by the happenings in Ferguson. Bruni told reporters that there were a number of areas in which the U.S. needs to address in order to be fully compliant with the United Nations.
While the United Nations panel is condemning police brutality in the states, they did have favorable reactions to President Obama’s efforts to ban torture as well as his efforts to put into practice the treaty abroad. Even with Obama’s efforts, the committee was unhappy with the militarization of U.S. police, the lack of military accountability in places such as Guantanamo where they sited such abuses as sleep deprivation which the UN believes to be a form of ill treatment.
The panel also said that while the events that took place in Ferguson were a tragedy, they respect the authorities decision not to prosecute the officer involved in the shooting. A committee member said that they must respect the decision made by the grand jury. Although the panel did make the recommendation that every single instance of police brutality needed to be investigated in a prompt manner in an impartial and effective manner.
The U.S. was not the only country undergoing a review of compliance by the UN. In fact the U.S. was one of eight countries that was receiving reports from the committee on Friday. The report was part of a periodic review done for all countries that follow the international treaty. Condemnation for police brutality was only one portion of the review issued by the United Nations panel. Unfortunately, it is the most relevant as the issues surrounding Ferguson have reached the point of protests and riots.
By Kimberley Spinney
Photo by Wally Gobetz – Flickr License