Human rights groups to U.N. High Commissioner: U.S. police violence against anti-racism protesters rampant

Today, Access Now, the USC Gould School of Law’s International Human Rights Clinic (USC IHRC), and Foley Hoag LLP (on behalf of Access Now) submitted information concerning the U.S. Government’s violent response to peaceful protests against racism to the United Nations (U.N.) High Commissioner for Human Rights for consideration in her upcoming report to the U.N. Human Rights Council. The submission highlights the alleged use of excessive force against demonstrators, journalists, medics, and legal observers.

The joint submission to the High Commissioner is part of broader U.N. advocacy efforts to decry the worrisome escalation in human rights abuse against peaceful anti-racism protesters in the U.S. The coalition calls on the international community to address systemic racism and police violence involving Africans and people of African descent in the U.S. and beyond.

“The situation in the U.S. requires the immediate, sustained, and coordinated attention of the international community” said Professor Hannah Garry, Founding Director of the USC IHRC.

“We welcome this opportunity to provide documented evidence for the High Commissioner’s consideration as she prepares this timely report,” said Ava Habibian and Laura Penaranda, Student Attorneys at the USC IHRC.

The submission includes 41 tailored recommendations for the High Commissioner’s consideration, specifically requesting that the High Commissioner:

  • Conduct public hearings and consultations that will provide meaningful opportunities for a wide range of voices on the specified human rights violations;
  • Visit the U.S. and press the Government to grant unimpeded access for the U.N. to further investigate law enforcement response to racial justice protesters; and
  • Send a Communication to the U.S. Government to call for an immediate, thorough, and impartial investigation into alleged human rights violations.

“Law enforcement’s abuse of surveillance tools to monitor lawful online activity during peaceful demonstrations not only interferes with — but creates a chilling effect on — the exercise of a range of human rights,” said Laura O’Brien, U.N. Advocacy Officer at Access Now. “We enthusiastically support U.N. efforts to dismantle systemic racism, police violence, and repression of peaceful protesters, online and in the streets.”

The submission builds on previous advocacy outputs, including an Urgent Appeal to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Clément N. Voule, a virtual side event directed at the U.N. General Assembly, and coalition efforts surrounding the U.S. Universal Periodic Review, to provide the High Commissioner with material regarding the U.S. Government’s response to peaceful anti-racism protesters.