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UN committee urges US to investigate police brutality

[JURIST] The UN Committee Against Torture [official website] has urged the US [report, PDF] to begin prompt, impartial investigations into all cases of police brutality and excessive use of force by police officers, and to limit the use of electrical discharge weapons. The committee expressed concern over the use of force against people of "certain racial and ethnic groups, immigrants and LGBT individuals, racial profiling by police and immigration offices and growing militarization of policing activities," especially in Chicago, where according to the committee, there have been reports that the Chicago Police Department [official website] has harassed, racially profiled and used excessive force on African-American and Latino youths. In particular, the report "expresses its deep concern at the frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed black individuals." The committee also suggested prosecuting all individuals suspected of torture or excessive force and to remedy the victims. Additionally, the report criticized the use of tasers on unarmed individuals for fleeing minor crime scenes, resisting arrest and even on minors. The committee urged the US to limit the use of these weapons to situations where there exists a risk of serious bodily harm or death, and to prohibit their use against children and pregnant women. Other topics examined by the committee's report on the US include counter-terrorism measures, alleged tortures overseas, interrogation techniques, immigrant detention and solitary confinement.

The report, which was based on conclusions adopted last week by the committee, was published just days after a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri decided not to return an indictment [JURIST report] against police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown in August. Police in Ferguson have since received much criticism for force of use and alleged human rights abuses. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy websites] issued reports [JURIST report] in August alleging the use of police force and intimidation tactics to dispel largely nonviolent protesters threatens constitutional freedoms. Last month AI further reported that police in Ferguson, Missouri committed human rights abuses [JURIST report] against peaceful protesters. Five people brought a lawsuit [JURIST report] in August against the city of Ferguson, Missouri and several officials for the use of unnecessary and unwarranted force by St. Louis County Police and Ferguson Police against demonstrators.

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