UN Panel Against Torture Expresses Concerns About Police Brutality in U.S.


The panel that constitutes the U.N. Committee Against Torture came up with a lengthy report that expressed the members' deep criticisms against the U.S.' actions on a number of issues that range from counter-terrorism methods to police brutality, sexual assault in the military, immigration policies, and more.

The report is the panel's concluding observations after conducting several hearings in Geneva dubbed as 'Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.' The hearings, which began in early November, were also attended by the parents of Michael Brown when they testified on Nov. 13-14. Other participants include the U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council Keith Harper and the U.S. Department of State Acting Legal Adviser Mary E. McLeod.

"There are numerous areas where there are things that should be changed to be fully compliant with the United Nations Convention Against Torture," said Alessio Bruni, one of the panel members, as he talked to the reporters in Geneva.

The panel's 16-page report cited its deep concern on the numerous cases of police brutality and their abuse of power when dealing with immigrants, minority groups, and LGBT community. Moreover, the members expressed their disapproval on the police's rampant involvement in racial profiling.

"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," added Bruni. He further noted the recent incident in Chicago caused by the police where most of the victims of violence involved African-Americans and Latino youths.

The report had no specific recommendation or reaction to the Ferguson Grand Jury who did not indict Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting.

Ned Price, a spokesman for Obama's National Security Council, responded to the report by saying: "We will continue to work with our partners toward the achievement of the Convention's ultimate objective: a world without torture."

Apart from the U.S., countries that are also getting reports from the committee members include Kazakhstan, Croatia, Burundi, Australia, Venezuela, Ukraine, and Sweden.

The report also criticizes how the U.S. fared in other areas of concern such as military interrogations, solitary confinement, illegal migrants, and maximum security prisons. It called for more stringent federal laws that will ultimately define and outlaw torture, citing the conditions of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay and those that are in Yemen. Moreover, it denounced the system's interrogation techniques aimed at prolonging a prisoner's sense of capture by depriving him from sleep or any form of sensory-based actions.  Concerns on death penalty, juveniles in the criminal justice system, and sexual violence in the U.S. military were also included in the report.

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