Leading human rights organizations and relatives of victims urged the United Nations on Monday to create a commission to conduct an independent inquiry into police violence against African Americans in the United States.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union were among the dozens of groups that made the request in a letter to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
The letter to the former Chilean president was also signed by members of 171 “families of the victims of police brutality” in the United States.
Bachelet is to present a report in June on “systemic racism, (and) violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies.”
The report was commissioned by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in June of last year following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man killed by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd’s death sparked protests against police brutality and racial injustice across the United States and around the world.
The letter to Bachelet noted that there have been calls for the establishment of a commission of inquiry to “investigate systemic racism in law enforcement in the United States.”
“We believe that a robust international accountability mechanism would further support and complement, not undermine, efforts to dismantle systemic racism in the United States, especially in the context of police violence against people of African descent,” the signatories said.
They recalled that the “original draft resolution called on the (Human Rights Council) to establish these mechanisms.
“However, the Council adopted a watered-down resolution due to enormous diplomatic pressure from the United States under the Trump administration and other allied countries.”
A high-level commission such as the one being recommended by the organizations and victims’ families is generally reserved for major international crises such as the Syrian conflict.