News / USA

UN Watchdog Committee Rips US Gun Violence

A casket containing the body of Michael Brown is wheeled out at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, Aug. 25, 2014.
A casket containing the body of Michael Brown is wheeled out at Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri, Aug. 25, 2014.
Lisa Schlein

A United Nations watchdog committee slams the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials in the United States, saying it disproportionately affects ethnic minorities, especially African-Americans. The comments come as part of a regular examination of how well countries implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.  

Eighteen independent experts who contributed to the report had harsh words to describe an incident a few weeks ago in which a policeman shot and killed an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri.  

One of the committee members, Noureddine Amir, said Friday the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials against minorities is an ongoing concern in the U.S.   
"It illustrates a bigger problem in the United States, such as racial bias by law enforcement officials, the lack of proper implementation of rules and regulations governing the use of force, and the inadequacy of training of law enforcement officials," said Amir.

The comments come as part of the committee's regular review of nations that have signed the convention on ending discrimination.

The U.S. delegation to the committee says there is need for improvement, but the United States has made great progress. They point out that the president and the nation's top law enforcement officer are both African American, and that women and minorities are increasingly represented at the highest levels of government.

And they note that the government has pushed new efforts to eliminate racial disparities in education, employment and law enforcement.

In looking at Peru, Japan and Estonia, the committee cited progress in reducing discrimination, but said concerns remain about discrimination against migrant workers, minorities and how women are treated in those countries.

In its examination of Iraq, the committee raised particular concerns about the persistence of sectarian terrorist attacks.  
The committee denounced the Islamic State militants’ brutal treatment of Iraq's minority groups. Independent expert Marc Bossuyt said the committee is calling for an urgent action decision.
"It had two operative parts. The first one was to request the Human Rights Council to convene a special session, and that will take place," said Bossuyt. "We recommended to consider establishing a Commission of Inquiry on the actions of the IS [Islamic State] in Iraq. And, the second operational paragraph was urging the secretary-general of the United Nations to submit to the Security Council the suggestion to set up a U.N. peace force as a temporary emergency measure in order to create a safe zone in the plain of Ninevah."  

Indeed, 29 members of the 44-member U.N. Human Rights Council have recommended a special session on the abuses committed by the Islamic State and other militant groups. That meeting will take place Monday in Geneva.

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