Ferguson shooting a tragedy, U.N. torture panel member says

U.N. committee weighs in on Ferguson
U.N. committee weighs in on Ferguson

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U.N. committee weighs in on Ferguson 03:34

Story highlights

  • The U.S. is one of eight countries reported on by the U.N. Committee Against Torture
  • U.N. panel criticizes excessive force and racial profiling by U.S. police
  • Member says committee must respect grand jury's decision in Ferguson, Missouri, case
  • The U.N recommends independent investigations of police brutality
The events in Ferguson, Missouri, are a "tragedy," but the U.N. Committee Against Torture "has to respect the decision" of authorities not to prosecute police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, committee member Alessio Bruni said Friday.
Bruni spoke at a news conference about the release of a committee report that criticizes, among other things, racial profiling and excessive use of force by U.S. police.
While the report does not specifically mention the Ferguson case, it does express concern about the militarization of U.S. police departments.
The U.S. was one of eight countries getting a periodic review of compliance with the U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
The other countries getting reports from the committee Friday were Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela, Australia, Burundi, Croatia and Kazakhstan.
Much of the 16-page report that focuses on the U.S. deals with Guantanamo Bay and the treatment of detainees there, but it also includes a section on police brutality and criticizes "excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, in particular against persons belonging to certain racial and ethnic groups."
The report's release comes about two weeks after Brown's parents spoke to the committee in Geneva, Switzerland, in testimony behind closed doors. Though the talk was private, the delegation that organized their trip said the couple told the committee that Brown's killing, and force used by police officers during protests that followed, "represent violations of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment."
The U.N. report mentions "deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals."
Instances of police brutality should be investigated by entities that have "no institutional or hierarchical connection between the investigators and the alleged perpetrators," the report recommends.
The U.N committee also expressed concern about juveniles in the criminal justice system, the use of the death penalty and sexual violence in the U.S. military.