Mon, 19 Apr 2021

GENEVA, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- A group of United Nations (UN) human rights experts on Friday called on the United States administration to adopt wide-ranging reforms to end police violence and to vigorously address systemic racism and racial discrimination.

"We have repeatedly raised our concerns about the excessive force used by American police in the context of peaceful demonstrations and the use of lethal force against individuals who did not present a threat to life at the time of the police intervention," the experts said in a joint statement issued here on Friday.

"In this time of political change, the United States must initiate far-reaching reforms to address police brutality and systemic racism," the statement noted.

The experts welcomed the recent report by the Philadelphia Office of the City Controller on the response to the protests following the killing of African-American George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and urged other authorities that have not done so to thoroughly assess their response to the protests and allegations of systemic problems, such as racism.

According to the experts, the Philadelphia investigation found that the city had failed to sufficiently plan for the protests and that excessive force was used. It also found that inconsistent approaches were used against those protesting against police brutality versus those supporting the police.

"In Philadelphia, as in other parts of the country where Black Lives Matter protests took place, law enforcement interventions were not limited to areas where lootings and vandalism had allegedly occurred," the experts said, adding that tear gas canisters even landed in home yards hurting children.

The experts also expressed concern that the relevant national legal and policy frameworks allow law enforcement officers to use lethal force whenever it is deemed "reasonable."

"We have witnessed many police killings that have resulted from police action related to petty offences," the statement said.

According to the experts, civil society organizations and social movements in Philadelphia and elsewhere have long documented racist policing practices that disproportionately target African-American communities in the city.

The experts said that "policing reforms must adopt genuine and substantive measures to dismantle systemic racism in policing, including against racial, ethnic and other minorities, by divestment from current policing budgets and reinvestment in alternative social and economic resources that are vital for the safety of these communities."

"We hope that the new U.S. administration will be able to pursue the necessary reforms with resolve, determination and a strong political and financial commitment," they concluded.

The joint statement was signed by special rapporteurs, independent experts and working groups that are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council.

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