A UN report has condemned the United States for violating the terms of an international anti-torture treaty. The panel took Washington to task for police brutality, military interrogations, and capital punishment protocols.
Released by the UN Committee Against Torture, the report took issue with the excessive use of force by law enforcement and accused the US police force of racial profiling. The report was released on Friday, just days after the contentious decision of a Missouri grand jury not to indict a white officer accused of shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen. The decision triggered a wave of protests nationwide.
The UN watchdog expressed “deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals.” Though the report did not specifically mention the events in Ferguson, Mike Brown’s parents met with the committee to discuss their son’s case in Geneva earlier this month.
The 10-person panel, which periodically reviews the records of the 156 countries which ratified the Convention Against Torture – a non-binding international human rights treaty – cited mounting concerns over “racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities.”
“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism,” said panel member Alessio Bruni at a news conference in Geneva.
US activists welcomed the findings as a call to action for the federal government.
“This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity,” said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as quoted by Reuters.
Urging for tougher laws to define and ban torture, the committee called on Washington to reevaluate the treatment of detainees at the infamous Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which currently houses 148 prisoners. The report accused the US of sustaining a “draconian system of secrecy surrounding high-value detainees that keeps their torture claims out of the public domain.”
“There are numerous areas in which certain things should be changed for the United States to comply fully with the convention,” said Bruni.