Commission Considers Freedom From Police Brutality a Human Right

In the aftermath of the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, and the ensuing worldwide protests, the American Civil Liberties Union in collaboration with Human Rights Network, the United Nations special rapporteur on Racism, Gay McDougall of the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and others sent an appeal to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights asking for a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) and a commission of inquiry. It was a demand put forth in the name of the families of Black victims of police violence and over 600 advocacy organizations.

On June 19, 2020, a resolution to establish a commission of inquiry, like those that have recently investigated violations in Myanmar, Palestine and Yemen, was considered by the HRC.

But, as some within the U.N. have noted, the Trump administration swiftly diluted key aspects of the resolution. HRC 43/1, as amended, veered from an in-depth look at the U.S. to a more general focus, and instead of an investigation conducted by a commission of inquiry, the high commissioner for human rights was tasked with preparing an annual report on systemic racism and violations of international human rights law. The first one is due in June.

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