UN independent human rights experts on Wednesday condemned the violent crackdown on widespread peaceful protests in the US, which erupted after the killing of an African-American by police.
In a statement, the UN special rapporteurs also urged the implementation of strong measures to eradicate racial discrimination and to radically reform US policing of communities of color and of peaceful protests.
Shortly before they released their statement, US Ambassador to the UN Andrew Bremberg issued a statement expressing “horror, anger, and grief at the senseless death of George Floyd.”
The UN experts said: “Police abuse and excessive use of force during peaceful assemblies is inexcusable at any time but it is especially distressing when demonstrators are precisely calling for accountability on police brutality and systemic racism in policing.”
“Firing tear gas and beating peaceful protesters does not silence them. It only reaffirms the urgency of the struggle for police reform and racial justice in the United States,” they added.
The experts singled out a video footage showing a 75-year-old man sustaining a head injury after being pushed to the ground by police in Buffalo, N.Y. and also hundreds of videos highlighting the use by police of batons, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse peaceful protesters.
The experts also expressed alarm at the militarization of the crackdown, including the deployment of at least 62,000 National Guard soldiers not trained to manage protests.
They said that reports of police attacks against, and arrests of, journalists covering the protests were “disturbing”.
“International law protects the right of everyone – including journalists and human rights defenders – to observe, monitor and report on such events.
“Attacking and arresting journalists and human rights defenders who perform this important public duty is simply unacceptable,” the experts said.
They welcomed measures by authorities in some cities, including Minneapolis, to open dialogue with African-American communities and civil society organizations and respond to their calls to end systemic racism and violence in policing.
“The voices and participation of affected communities in local and federal efforts to reform the system must be heard and ensured with no further delay,” the experts said.
US Ambassador Bremberg said: “The public reaction in the United States that followed this grave tragedy has demonstrated the collective desire of Americans to overcome racial injustice in our nation.
“The United States is committed to achieving equality for all and bringing about a more perfect union,” he said.
“The largely peaceful demonstrations have also shown the world that Americans cherish and robustly exercise their inherent freedoms of expression, opinion, and assembly, as they raise their collective voice,” said Bremberg.
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