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A call for transformative change for racial justice and equality in policing

The Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement (EMLER) is up for renewal during the 56th session of the Human Rights Council (18 June - 12 July). The UN Antiracism Coalition (UNARC) calls for this crucial mandate to be renewed.

The police should do their work in a way that respects the life and well-being of everyone, no matter their origin or skin colour. However, in many places this does not happen and systemic racism and anti-Blackness in law enforcement globally continue to require thematic engagement by the Human Rights Council. The UN Antiracism Coalition (UNARC), a coalition comprising over 60 organisations from across the world, and more than 100 families of people impacted by racism in law enforcement are urging States to support the renewal of EMLER’s mandate and the strengthening of the resources allocated to the mandate. Read our letter here

Structural racism in policing was again put in the spotlight four years ago when George Floyd was murdered by a policeman in the United States. With Floyd’s murder, social movements, activists and human rights defenders around the world mobilised mass protests that filled the streets and sparked social media.

This movement has impacted various mobilsations at national, regional and international levels in the antiracist struggle, specifically in the quest to end to police brutality caused by Anti-Blackness. One of these important mobilisations, led by UNARC members, pushed the Human Right Council to create the Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement (EMLER) through resolution 47/21.

EMLER experts conducted fact-finding missions to Sweden, Brazil, the US, Italy, and a regional visit to South America – connecting with directly impacted persons and investigating the root causes of systemic and structural racism are included. Moreover, the mechanism has produced annual, thematic and country reports that translate the multiple challenges faced on the ground by Africans and People of African Descent to achieve broad racial equality and justice and obtain reparations and redress to their particular cases of human rights violations. 

Despite progress in raising awareness of this theme and amplifying the voices of those who lack access to international human rights institutions, more work is needed globally. In these first three years, EMLER has only addressed the surface of this violence and has not been given sufficient time to address all its aspects, including its historical causes, especially the Transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans and colonialism. EMLER’s mandate is crucial in fighting against law enforcement violence, thus the Human Rights Council should renew EMLER’s mandate at its upcoming 56th session and strengthen its resources. 

To support our call, please share this article on social media or contact us at [email protected]. See the letter to all States below:

The undersigned families of people directly impacted by police violence, civil society organizations, and members of the United Nations Antiracism Coalition (UNARC) (1) write with regard to the follow up to the Africa Group-led Human Rights Council Resolution (A/HRC/47/21) on the “Promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality”,  adopted by consensus at the 47th session of the Council on 13 July 2021. 

Resolution 47/21, interalia, established the Expert Mechanism (EMLER) with a three-year mandate to advance racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement globally, especially where relating to the legacies of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans, to investigate Governments’ responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and all violations of international human rights law and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims.  

The Council’s engagement on these issues were a response to the demands made by victims’ families, civil society organizations, and Special Procedures in the context of the Urgent Debate and its Resolution 43/1 in June 2020, and its follow up Resolution 47/21 in 2021. The adoption of these resolutions are a testament to the resilience, bravery and commitment of victims, their families, their representatives and anti-racism defenders globally, as well as the indispensable leadership and support provided by the Africa Group in the global fight against racism. 

During their first mandate, from 2021 to 2024, EMLER conducted 4 country visits (Sweden in 2022, United States and Brazil in 2023, and Italy in 2024) and one regional visit to South America in 2022. Additionally, they published their working methods in their second annual session of 2023 which includes coordination and collaboration with other human rights mechanisms, they have sent 9 communications to States regarding specific cases of police violence and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials towards Africans and people of African descent; and they have published ten press releases about country visit investigations, recommendations to States, specific cases, and more. EMLER has published two thematic reports (on data collection and reimagining policing),  as well as two country visit reports (Sweden, United States). Its third thematic report on Justice, Accountability and Redress should be presented at the 57th session of the Council together with the Brazil and Italy country visit reports (2). Furthermore, the experts have participated in numerous civil society side events (in-person and virtually) and webinars. 

EMLER’s first mandate underscores the worrying results related to human rights violations committed by law enforcement officials against Africans and people of African descent. According to the Mechanism’s  2022 annual report on the collection, publication and analysis of data disaggregated by race or ethnic origin regarding the interactions of Africans and people of African descent with law enforcement and the criminal justice system, there are immense challenges in data collection and a lack of respect from law enforcement to recognize the importance of data to promote positive change in the community. 

More broadly, the Mechanism’s report mentions that many States continued to be reluctant to engage in the collection and use of data disaggregated by race or ethnic origin. Some States go as far as prohibiting, by law, the collection of ethnic-based statistics. Even where hate crimes are recorded and investigated, they are not specifically recorded as crimes or incidents against Africans or persons of African descent. Their consultations also showed that even when data was collected and disaggregated by race or ethnic origin, it was not published. 

In addition, other States covered by this mandate face challenges in implementing changes related to disaggregated data on police violence against Africans and people of African descent. In both cases, systemic racism is an imperative and structuring element that escalates the violations, oppression and deaths of Black populations around the world.

This escalation was also demonstrated during EMLER’s visits to Brazil and the United States when, in total, 239 people directly affected testified to the experts. The U.S. visit report, the statements in Brazil, and the press releases around Italy, Brazil, and the U.S. visits highlighted similar issues and root causes as related to:

  • Transparency in law enforcement and reevaluation of its procedures: as they observed a lack of trust from people of African descent in law enforcement and the criminal justice systems, mainly due to the historical and continuous police violence suffered;  
  • Risk of reprisals and delayed justice: as they heard about threats, intimidation, reprisals, and stigmatization suffered by victims and their family members; 
  • Discrimination regarding migration status: as migrants of African descent also face larger forms of discrimination arising from their nationality; and 
  • Gender and sexual orientation intersections: as women, girls, and LGBTQ+ persons of African descent experience greater forms of discrimination arising not only from their racial or ethnic origin, their sex, and/or sexual orientation but also with gender/ sexuality-based discrimination and stereotyping.

As stated in their working methods and previewed in Resolution 47/21, the Mechanism works in close collaboration with Special Procedures including the Working Group of Experts on people of African descent and the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.  The Mechanism moves away from duplicated work and towards a deeper contribution to the fight against racism globally. Faced with the plural and complex intersections present in structural and systemic racism, it is necessary for these mechanisms to coexist, so that they can, in their singularity, address specific topics, work with States, stakeholders, and directly impacted people in a detailed way,  in order to understand, analyze and make recommendations in this regard.  A collaborative and complementary approach between these mechanisms is fundamental, as EMLER has contributed so far within its unique role as the only UN mechanism focused on violence in the context of law enforcement against Africans and people of African descent. EMLER also has a unique mandate in giving special attention to listening to and grounding its analysis in the lived experiences of Africans and people of African descent throughout its work. 

Systemic racism and anti-Blackness in law enforcement globally continues to require thematic engagement by the Human Rights Council. EMLER has only addressed the surface of thisviolence and has not been given sufficient time to address all its aspects , including its root causes, especially the Transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans, and colonialism.

Therefore, our organizations urge the Council to sustain its engagement for transformative change for racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement globally and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims. In this regard, we urge all States to support the mandate of the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in the Context of Law Enforcement (EMLER) including by:

  • participating positively in the negotiations on the resolution proposed by the Africa Group;
  • support strengthening of the resources allocated to EMLER’s mandate;
  • presenting early co-sponsorship of the text; 
  • resisting any attempts to dilute the mandate or State obligations and; 
  • supporting consensus renewal of the mandate.


Families from directly impacted people affected by police violence:

Arthur Blakey II- Oldest Brother of Kiana Blakey

Killed by Cleveland OH Police Department


Dorothy Copp Elliott- Mother of Archie “Artie” Elliott, III

Killed by District Heights MD Police Department and Prince Georges County MD Police Department


Patricia Ward- Mother of Curtis Williamson

Killed in San Diego CA


Marion Gray-Hopkins- Mother of Gary Hopkins, Jr.

Killed by Prince Georges County MD Police Department


Corina D Griswold- Daughter of Rudy Cardenas

Killed by California DEA


Krissy Johnson- Daughter of Inzer Allen “AJ” Johnson

Killed by Rainbow City AL Police Department


Alicia Alvarez- Mother of Johnathtan Cuevas

Killed by Los Angeles CA Police Department


Anita L. Wills- Grandmother of Kerry Baxter Junior

Killed by Oakland CA Police Department


Bridzette Lane- Mother of Ralphael Briscoe

Killed by Metropolitan DC Police Department


Kenneth Wade Harding JR- Mother of Kenneth Harding Jr

Killed by San Francisco CA Police Department


Dr. Anita Harris- Grandmother and Legal Guardian of Dawntrae Ta’Shawn Williams

Killed by Gwinnett County GA Police Department


Jeralynn Brown-Blueford- Mother of Alan Dwayne Blueford

Killed by Oakland CA Police Department


Amalia Villafane- Mother of Sebastian Gregory

Killed by Miami Dade FL Police Department


Dolores Piper- Aunt of Derrick Gaines

Killed by South San Francisco CA Police Department


Jennie Ruiz- Sister of Charlie Salinas

Killed by Sanger CA Police Department


Linda Camberdella- Mother of Michael Joseph cam Camberdella

Killed by Palm Beach FL Sheriffs Office


Montye A Benjamin- Mother of Jayvis LeDell Benjamin

Killed by Avondale Estate GA Police Department


Collette Flanagan- Mother of Clinton R. Allen

Killed by Dallas TX Police Department


Toni Nichelle Taylor- Mother of Cary Ball Jr

Killed by St. Louis MO Metro Police Department


Chantell Brooks- Mother of Michael Westley

Killed by Chicago IL Police Department


Kristine Lee Rose- Mother of Jessie Lee Rose

Killed by Utica NY Police Department


Tawanda Jones- Sister of Tyrone West

Killed by Baltimore MD Police Department and Morgan State University Police Department


Joey Santellana- Father of Jonathen Santellana

Killed by Navasota TX Police Department


Melissa Goodblanket- Mother of Mah-hivist Red Bird Goodblanket

Killed by Custer County OK Sheriffs Office


Janet Baker- Mother of Jordan Baker

Killed by Houston TX Police Department


Deanna Joseph- Mother of Andrew Joseph III

Killed by Hillsborough County FL Sheriffs Office


Laurie Valdez- Domestic Partner of Antonio Guzman Lopez

Killed by San Jose State University CA Police Department


Deborah Ann Bush- Aunt of Marquise Jones

Killed by San Antonio TX Police Department


Holly Perez- Mother of Ryan Deitrich

Killed by Baltimore County MD Police Department


Vickie Williams- Mother of Tinoris Williams

Killed by Palm Beach County FL Sheriffs Office


Maria Hamilton- Mother of Dontre D Hamilton

Killed by Milwaukee WI Police Department


Jindia Blount- Sister of Juan May

Killed by Arlington TX Police Department


Isabelle Padilla- Mother of Joseph Valverde

Killed by Denver CO Police Department


Denise Rankin- Mother of DaRon Gaylor Jr.

Killed by Flint MI Police Department


Cheryl Smith- Friend of John Crawford III

Killed by Beavercreek OH Police Department


Pamela Brooks- Mother of Amir De’Mani Brooks

Killed by Prince Georges County MD Police Department


Gina Marie Thayne- Aunt and Last Legal Guardian of Dillon D Taylor

Killed by Salt Lake City UT Police Department


Patricia L. Perez and Richard Perez- Grandparents of Richard Pedro “Pedie” Perez lll

Killed by Richmond CA Police Department


Dorothy Holmes- Mother of Ronald Johnson 3rd

Killed by Chicago IL Police Department


Toni M. Biegert- Mother of Joseph Raymond Biegert

Killed by Green Bay WI Police Department


Sharon Irwin Henry- Grandmother of Tony Terrell Robinson Jr

Killed by Madison WI Police Department


Jennifer Cooper- Mother of Norman Cooper

Killed by San Antonio TX Police Department


Kimberly Davis- Mother of Kimoni Davis

Killed by Ohio State Patrol


Judy Edens- Mother of Jason Alderman

Killed by Bakersfield CA Police Department


Gina Best- Mother of India Kager

Killed by Virginia Beach VA Police Department SWAT


Annemarie Grant- Sister of Thomas Purdy

Killed by Reno NV Police Department and Washoe County NV Sheriffs Office


Sheila Banks- Aunt and Godmother of Corey Jones

Killed by Palm Beach Gardens FL Police Department


Dytania Hudson- Mother of Deaunte Bell

Killed by Columbus OH Police Department


Beverly A Smith- Mother of Alonzo Fiero Smith

Killed by DC Metro Special Police Officers


Delisa Davis- Sister of Kevin Davis

Killed by Dekalb County GA Police Department


Laura Marquez- Mother in law of Albert B. Thompson

Killed by Ceres CA Police Department


Irene B Kalonji- Mother of Christopher Kalonji

Killed by Clackamas County OR Sheriffs Office


Jacqueline Minifield-Brown- Mother of D’Londre Minifield

Killed by Winchester VA Police Department


Dalphine Robinson- Mother of Jabril Robinson

Killed by Clayton County GA Police Department


Adrienne Hood- Mother of Henry Green V

Killed by Columbus OH Division of Police


Diane Marie Cofinco and Marissa (Lulu) Valenzuela Ronquillo- Aunts of Fermin “Vincent” Valenzuela Jr.

Killed by Anaheim CA Police Department


Rhanda Dormeus- Mother of Korryn Gaines

Killed by Baltimore County MD Police Department


Kim Thomas- Mother of Earl Shaleek

Killed by Harrisburg PA Police Department


Cruz Weick- Mother of Sergio D. Weick

Killed by Vista CA Police Department


Kia Villarreal- Wife of Francisco Villarreal

Killed by Bakersfield CA Police Department


Leticia Barron- Mother of Mauricio Barron

Killed by CA Highway Patrol


Ayanna Nicole Johnson- Mother of Darius Lamar Wimberly

Killed by Benton Harbor MI Department of Public Safety and Police Department


Emily Gonzales- Mother of Jordan Love Gonzales

Killed by Corpus Christi TX Police Department


Lethia Kizer- Mother of Darrion Barnhill

Killed by Henderson County TN Sheriffs Office


Chana Wiley- Sister of Jaron Thomas

Killed by Columbus OH Police Department


Tyvonna Phillips- Mother of Deaundre Phillips

Killed by Atlanta GA Police Department


Christine Ann Amaro and Marissa Barrera- Mother and Sister of Michael Anthony Barrera

Killed by Woodland CA Police Department


Angelique Negroni-Kearse- Wife of Andrew Kearse

Killed by Schenectady NY Police Department


Donna Chisesi- Mother of Jonathan David Victor

Killed by Baldwin County AL Sheriffs Office


Gina Torres- Mom of Isaiah Hammett

Killed by St Louis MO Police Department


Ann Cortez- Mother of Santino Trevino ll

Killed by Los Angeles CA Police Department


Dionne Burney- Mother of Ke’sharn Burney

Killed by Montgomery County OH


Rosalinda Chavez- Aunt of Jacob Dominguez

Killed by San Jose CA Police Department


Mary “Theresa” Wynne- Mother of Dominique Tyrell White

Killed by Topeka KS Police Department


Sabrina Jordan- Mother of Jamarco McShann

Killed by Moraine OH Police Department


Kathy Leola Scott-Lykes- Mother of Jarvis Anwar “Scotti” Lykes

Killed by Georgia State Patrol


Tynesha Renee Tilson- Mother of Shali Vladimir Francis Tilson

Killed by Rockdale County GA Sheriffs Office


Denise Price- Mother of Jeffery Price Jr

Killed by Metropolitan DC Police Department


Catherine Young- Mother of D’Quan Young

Killed by DC Metro Police Department


Iris Emily Salazar- Mother of Leslie Yolanda Salazar

Killed by Austin TX Police Department


Tiffany Simpson- Mother of Logan Simpson

Killed by Bixby OK Police Department


Dawn Wilson- Mother of Sarah Wilson

Killed by Chesapeake VA Police Department SWAT


Barbara Okamoto- Grandmother of Christopher Alexander Okamoto

Killed by Bakersfield CA Police Department


Tiffany Tabares- Mother of Dillan Tabares

Killed by Huntington Beach CA Police Department


Patricia Castillo and Bernice Roundtree- Mothers of Charles Roundtree Jr

Killed by San Antonio TX Police Department


Karla Gonsalez- Mother of Agustin A Gonsalez

Killed by Hayward CA Police Department


Tessa Andrews-Biele- Mother of Keaton James Larson

Killed by Stillwater MN Police Department


Maria Elena Vazquez- Mother of Jennifer Vazquez

Killed by San Jose CA Police Department


Donna Marie Martin- Sister of Andre Cartel Gladen

Killed by Portland OR Police Department


Joanne Rojas- Mother of Josiah Pinner

Killed by Hillsborough County FL Sheriffs Office


Quiana and Trena Kelley-Miller- Mothers of TreShun Symone Miller

Killed by Arlington TX Police Department


Jimmy Hill- Father of Jimmy Atchison

Killed by Atlanta GA Task Force


Elaine Simons- Foster Mom of Jesse Sarey

Killed by Auburn WA Police Department


Roxane Johnson- Mother of Jamaal K. Byrd

Killed by Metropolitan DC Police Department


Tammy Bufford- Mother of Cortez Demarko Bufford

Killed by St. Louis MO Metro Police Department


Kim Vaughn- Former Spouse and Mother of the Only Child of Mohammad Isaifan

Killed by Akron OH Police Department


Deborah Sanchez- Mother of Jorden Marie Simms

Killed by Graham County AZ Sheriffs Office


Ingrid Smyrna- Mother of Andrew Smyrna Jr

Killed by Georgia State Patrol


Jennifer Root Bannon- Sister of Juston Root

Killed by Boston MA Police Department and MA State Trooper


Jeannie Williams- Mother of John Henry Ross II

Killed by Harrisonburg VA Police Department and Rockingham County VA Sheriffs Office and VA State Police


Adrienne Moore- Mother of Derick Lamar Powe

Killed by Daphne AL Police Department


Paula Watson Livingstone- Mother of Timothy Darryl Sides Jr.

Killed by Caldwell County NC Sheriffs Office


Jeanne Llera- Mother of Jorge Antonio Gomez

Killed by Las Vegas NV Metro Police Department


Alexandra and Cathy Denise Legato- Sister and Mother of Anthony Michael Legato

Killed by Pine County MN Sheriffs Office


Melody S Cooper- Mother of Kwamena Appah Fynn Ocran

Killed by Gaithersburg MD Police Department


Kenisha Kinard- Mother of Daverion Deauntre Kinard

Killed by Fontana CA Police Department


Toni Franklin- Mother of Le’Den Boykins

Killed by Georgia State Patrol


Stanley Davis, Jr. – Father of STanley Davis III

Killed by Boynton Beach FL Police Department


Elaine Gibson- Mother of Denrick Stallings

Killed by Crawford County GA Sheriffs Office


Michelle Minix- Mother of Trevon Hull

Killed by Port Neches TX Police Department


Ashley McKenzie Smith- Mother of Jaylin McKenzie

Killed by Memphis TN Police Department


Tracey Washington- Mother of Breonte Johnson Davis

Killed by Palmetto FL Police Department


Civil Society Organizations:

  1. Geledés – Instituto da Mulher Negra –  (Brazil)
  2. Labjaca – (Brazil)
  3. Research Group “Human Rights, Education and Public Policies” of Goiás State University – (Brazil)
  4. Codigo Humano – (Dominican Republic)
  5. Organizacion Social Salvador – (Uruguay)
  6. Aquarius Supervivientes – (Spain)
  7. Fundación Cónclave Investigativo de las Ciencias Jurídicas Y Sociales (CIJYS)- Chile
  8. Bout du Monde – (Canada)
  9. Ilex Acción Jurídica – (Colombia)
  10. CRAN (Carrefour de réflexion et d’action contre le racisme anti-Noir) –  (Switzerland)
  11. UPAF (Université populaire africaine en Suisse) – (Switzerland)
  12. Policité – (Haiti)
  13. Fundación de Desarrollo Social Afroecuatoriana AZÚCAR – (Ecuador)
  14. Red de Mujeres Afroamericanas, Afrocaribeñas y de la Diáspora – (Regional, Latin America)
  15. Instituto Marielle Franco – (Brazil)
  16. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – (United States of America)
  17. INQUEST – (United Kingdom)
  18. Taller Salud – (Puerto Rico)
  19. Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) – (Argentina)
  20. Movimento Mulheres Negras Decidem – (Brazil)
  21. Temblores ONG – (Colombia)
  22. Rede de Mulheres Negras de Pernambuco – (Brazil)
  23. Instituto Vozes da Inclusão – (Brazil)
  24. Educación contra el racismo A.C. (RacismoMX) –  (México)
  25. Caribbean Association for Youth Development – (Grenada)
  26. Legal Resources Centre – (South Africa)
  27. La Articulación Latinoamericana por el Decenio Afrodescendiente ALDA – (Regional, Latin America)
  28. Rede Nacional de Mulheres Negras no Combate á Violência – (Brasil)
  29. Centro de Desarrollo de la Mujer Negra Peruana (CEDEMUNEP) – (Perú)
  30. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights – (United States of America)
  31. A4TE (Advocates For Trans Equality) – (United States of America)
  32. New Afrikan People’s Organization/Malcolm X Grassroots Movement-  (United States of America)
  33. Instituto Braços – Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos em Sergipe – (Brazil)
  34. Instituto Cultural Afro Mutalembê – (Brazil)
  35. Human Rights for Kids – (United States of America)
  36. Malcolm X Center for Self Determination – (United States of America)
  37. Afro-Gabinete de Articulação Institucional e Jurídica – AGANJU – (Brazil)
  38. Coalizão Negra por Direito – (Brazil)
  39. Movimento Negro Evangélico do Brasil (Brazil)
  40. Fórum Popular de Segurança Pública do Nordeste (Brazil)
  41. Fórum Popular de Segurança Pública de Pernambuco (Brazil)
  42. Coletivo Negro Minervino de Oliveira (Brazil)
  43. The Advocates for Human Rights – (United States of America)
  44. Coletivo Mulheres Cuidando Movimento Territórios – (Brazil)
  45. Human Rights Watch – (Global)
  46. Mães de Manguinho – (Brazil)
  47. Equipo de Implementación del Decenio Afrodescendiente en España – (Spain)
  48. Human Rights Center, University of Minnesota Law School – (United States of America)
  49. Association for the Prevention of Torture – (Global)
  50. Instituto de Referência Negra Peregum – (Brazil)
  51. Uneafro – (Brazil)
  52. Marcha das Mulheres Negras de SP – (Brazil)
  53. Mother Against Police Brutality –  (United States of America)
  54. ANPSINEP – Articulação Nacional de Psicólogas (os) Negras (os) e Pesquisadoras (res) – (Brazil)
  55. Redes da Mare – (Brazil)
  56. International Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) – (Global)
  57. Coletivo de mães – (Brazil)
  58. International Service for Human Rights – (Global)
  59. Caso João Pedro – (Brazil)
  60. (RE)Claim – (France)
  61. Conselho Municipal de Promoção de Igualdade Racial (COMPIR – Civil Society)
  62. Ação Social Franciscana (SEFRAS) – (Brazil)
  63. Instituto Alana – (Brazil)
  64. Muslim Advocates – (USA)
  65. Núcleo de Justiça Racial e Direito – (Brazil)
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