A United Nations (UN) committee on torture has issued a scathing report that calls on U.S. officials to thoroughly investigate and prosecute instances of police brutality in the United States, Reuters is reporting.
Released in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, the report notes a variety of police practices in the U.S. that the committee considers brutality, including “excruciating pain and prolonged suffering” of certain death-row inmates killed in so-called “botched executions,” reports of pregnant women being shackled in prisons, frequent prison rapes, and solitary confinement.
The report also noted concerns about the alarming number of police brutality reports against minority groups such as blacks and Latinos, gays, and immigrants.
Torture committee member Alessio Bruni called for independent investigations of all reports of police brutality.
“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism.”
The torture report did not specifically mention the Mike Brown shooting, or the militarized police presence in Ferguson during the protests that immediately followed his shooting, notes the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
Another member of the torture committee, Jens Modvig, expressed concern about investigations into police brutality in the U.S. being conducted quickly and haphazardly, and about police officers being found to have engaged in police brutality being punished too lightly.
“We have certain concerns about whether investigations are thoroughly completed and whether punishment of law enforcement (officers) when they have crossed the line are effectively put in place.”
In addition to concerns about police brutality, the report by the torture committee also took to task the U.S. military — for the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay — and U.S. immigration authorities, for housing immigrants, and their children, in “prison-like facilities.”
Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) welcomed the report.
“This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity.”
The 10 members of the U.N.’s torture committee are responsible for reviewing the records of all 156 countries that signed the U.N.’s treaty against torture, according to Talking Points Memo.
Do you believe that police brutality is so widespread in the U.S. that the UN torture committee needs to step in?
[Image courtesy of: Alex Sheremet]