9 June 2020
SOAS' Centre for Human Rights Law has joined with many other civil society organization in supporting the family members of victims of police killings and civil society organizations from around the world, call on member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council urgently convening a Special Session on the situation of human rights in the United States in order to respond to the unfolding grave human rights crisis born out of the repression of nationwide protests. The recent protests, which erupted on May 26 in response to the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was only one of a recent string of unlawful killings of unarmed Black people by police and armed white vigilantes. Like the family members, the Centre for Human Rights Law is deeply concerned about the escalation in violent police responses to largely peaceful protests in the United States, which included the use of rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and in some cases live ammunition, in violation of international standards on the use of force and management of assemblies including recent U.N. Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons.
The right to peaceful assembly and demonstration must be protected. This mandate is even more compelling with regard to the rights of minority communities, especially people of African descent, to speak out against racist practices they have endured for centuries. Recent police killings of unarmed Black people as well as police use of excessive force and repression of protests violate United States obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
We call upon the Human Rights Council to respond swiftly to this situation.
See the letter, full list of signatories and press release here: FAMILIES, RIGHTS GROUPS DEMAND U.N. INVESTIGATE U.S. POLICE BRUTALITY, PROTEST SUPPRESSION