UN experts said Thursday they had found “systemic racism” against the black community within the American police and justice systems, highlighting the need for urgent reform.
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For 12 days, the team of the “UN Independent Expert Mechanism to Promote Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Policing”, created after the death in 2020 of Afro- American George Floyd, met in April and May with victims, representatives of civil society, the judicial system, police unions, federal and local officials, in Washington, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Minneapolis and New York.
Their report, sent to the media on Thursday, highlights the “systemic and deeply rooted racism” against the black community in the United States and asserts that this “legacy of slavery (…) is spreading throughout the forces of the American ‘order and justice system’.
“We have heard dozens of heartbreaking testimonies about how victims are not getting justice or reparation,” one of the experts, Tracie Keesee, said in a statement.
“This is a systemic problem that requires a systemic response. All relevant stakeholders, including police services and police unions, must join forces to combat the prevailing impunity,” she demanded.
The group of experts was created in July 2021 by the UN Human Rights Council, approximately a year after the death of African-American George Floyd, killed on May 25, 2020 by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to investigate accusations of racially motivated police violence around the world.
According to their report, studies have shown that African Americans are three times more likely to be killed by police than the white population, and 4.5 times more likely to be incarcerated.
“There is strong evidence suggesting that the abusive behavior of certain police officers is part of a larger pattern,” observed investigator Juan Mendez.
“The attitudes of the American police and criminal justice system reflect the attitudes of American society,” he said, emphasizing the “pressing need for comprehensive reform.”
In this regard, the report makes 30 recommendations for the American administration and the 18,000 police departments in the United States.
The group of experts calls in particular for armed police officers to no longer be the first to be automatically sent to the scene when it comes to crisis situations, particularly in relation to issues of mental health, the homeless, traffic and school.