The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights concluded its 77th Ordinary Session held in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania from 20 October to 9 November 2023. During the session, the Commission renewed its Bureau. It received solemn declarations from elected and re-elected members and launched several documents and newsletters, among others.
This joint submission was a response to the High Commissioner’s call for contributions launched in view of the preparation of the report to the UN Human Rights Council on police brutality and systemic racism in the US and beyond.
In June 2020, after George Floyd’s murder and requests from families of African-American victims of police brutality, under the leadership of the African Group, the UN Human Rights Council held an urgent debate on systemic racism and police brutality against people of African descent in the US and beyond. The debate concluded with the High Commissioner being mandated to prepare a report on systemic racism, human rights violations against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement in the US and beyond, and governments’ responses to anti-racism protests.
In August, 144 families of victims of police brutality and over 360 civil society organisations, including ISHR, called for the High Commissioner to centre her report on the lives and experiences of people of African descent. In that regard, they pointed, the High Commissioner had to fully and inclusively involve people of African descent and the organisations representing them in the elaboration of the report, and listen and take heed of their concerns and contributions.
In response to the call for submissions launched by the High Commissioner, ISHR elaborated a joint report along with Comité Adama, based in France, and association « A Qui Le Tour ? », based in Switzerland. The report draws the High Commissioner’s attention to two cases of police violence that caused the deaths of 2 Black men, Adama Traoré in France in 2016, and Mike Ben Peter in Switzerland in 2018. This notably aims at highlighting the racially charged police violence and the judicial irregularities which usually surround them. The report also benefited from the contribution of Mike Ben Peter’s family represented by attorney Simon Ntah.
The report invites both France and Switzerland to, inter alia, prohibit the practice of belly tackles, which caused the death of the two victims mentioned in the report and of numerous other victims of police brutality across the world. It is also demanded from the two countries that they ensure diligent, transparent and impartial investigations in all cases of deaths or serious injuries at the hand of the police. It is indeed to be noted that in the two cases mentioned in the report, none of the officers have been charged yet, the conclusions of all the medical expertises initiated by the authorities have continuously been proven wrong, and a trial is still on the wait. Finaly, both countries are invited to accept visits by the UN’s Special Rapporteur on racism and Working group on people of African descent. In addition, the report specifically calls on France, a member of the Human Rights Council, to not hinder the work of human rights defenders fighting against police brutality. The report echoes recommendations previously shared at the Council’s 45th session and beyond, by France and Switzerland‘s civil societies as well as by ISHR.
We call on the High Commissioner to duly consider the information contained in the report and invite the concerned States to take all related necessary measures to ensure access to justice and truth to victims and their families. We reiterate our call to all States and to the Human Rights Council to establish an international commission of inquiry on police violence and systemic racism against Africans and people of African descent in the US and beyond as requested by the African Group and the Special procedures at last June’s urgent debate.
 The Special procedures called for the establishment of an international and thematic commission of inquiry on systemic racism in law enforcement globally, especially where it is related to legacies of colonialism and transatlantic slavery. : https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25969&LangID=E
Photo: Flickr/Jeanne Menjoulet
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