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UN Torture Watchdog Slams US for Police Brutality

National Guard soldiers board a bus outside of the Ferguson City Hall during a third night of protests following the grand jury verdict in the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, Nov. 26, 2014.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture urged the United States to investigate police abuse, as protests continue over a grand jury decision not to charge a white police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teenager in the U.S. state of Missouri.

In a report released Friday, the U.N. committee said it is concerned about "numerous reports" of police brutality and excessive use of force, in particular against minority racial and ethnic groups.

It described police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals as "frequent" and "recurrent."

Jens Modvig, one of the panel's 10 independent experts, said U.S. officials have not provided data on such complaints and how they have been investigated and prosecuted.

"We have reports of widespread extensive use of force by the police, and this gives rise to concern, of course, and also that some vulnerable groups, including ethnic groups, blacks, have been particularly targeted by this force," Modvig said. "And for this reason, the committee feels that there's a need for investigation and prosecution of all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force."

Periodic review

This is the U.N. panel's first review of the U.S. record since 2006. It is tasked with periodically reviewing all 156 countries that have ratified the U.N. treaty against torture.

The report comes amid inflamed racial tensions across the U.S. following the August shooting death of Missouri teen Michael Brown.

The committee also expressed concern over "numerous" and "consistent" reports of police using taser guns against unarmed people resisting arrest. It said tasers should only be used in life-threatening situations.

The review also raised the issue of U.S. torture of terrorism suspects abroad, as well as continued detentions at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the detention of undocumented immigrants.

Some information for this report comes from AP, AFP and Reuters.