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Police killings of Black Americans are crimes against humanity

Police killings crimes against humanity

 FILE – In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo police and protesters converge during a demonstration in Louisville, Ky. A grand jury has indicted one officer on criminal charges six months after Breonna Taylor was fatally shot by police in Kentucky. The jury presented its decision against fired officer Brett Hankison to a judge in Louisville, where the shooting took place. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The International Criminal Court has deemed the United States’ police killings of Black people as crimes against humanity, which should be immediately investigated under international law. 

Human rights experts from 11 countries contributed to the 188-page report, which was instigated by the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020. Last week, Derek Chauvin, the law enforcement officer who placed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes, was found guilty of three charges of murder and manslaughter. 

The commission noted racism is an integral aspect of the report and part of what constitutes the charges of crimes against humanity. Systemic racism and white supremacy are at the root of the police brutality against Black citizens.

Crimes against humanity

“This finding of crimes against humanity was not given lightly, we included it with a very clear mind,” said Hina Jilani, one of the 12 commissioners who led the inquiry, adding, “We examined all the facts and concluded that that there are situations in the US that beg the urgent scrutiny of the ICC.” 

The report noted that unarmed Black men and women are killed at alarmingly high rates by law enforcement officers and their agencies. Additionally, law enforcement policies unfairly target Black Americans at traffic stops, warrant-only arrests, and stop-and-frisk encounters, are also listed as contributing factors to the decision.  

The committee recommended an immediate investigation with consideration of prosecution under The Hague Convention as part of the International Criminal Court. The committee also declared the use of force against Black Americans is tantamount to torture, another crime against humanity.

Federal probes of police killings multiply

The report noted two law enforcement systems within the United States; one for white Americans and one for Black Americans. At least one city in the United States, Louisville, Kentucky, is being investigated for civil rights violations by the US Department of Justice. That decision was made following Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of law enforcement officials — who were in the wrong home at the time, and have yet to be charged. More recently, the FBI opened an investigation into the police killing of Andrew Brown jr. in North Carolina. An independent autopsy showed he was shot at least once in the back of the head.

The investigation concludes with findings that Black Americans experience “violations of the rights to: life, security, freedom from torture, freedom from discrimination, mental health, access to remedies for violations, fair trial and presumption of innocence, and to be treated with humanity and respect.”

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