Marcia Rigg, Sean Rigg’s sister, delivered a joint statement on behalf of ISHR, INQUEST and United Families and Friends Campaign, highlighting how bereaved families in the UK and beyond have had to fight for accountability and struggle to have their voices heard and their experiences counted, and calling on the UN to put the voices of victims and their families at the heart of the transformative racial justice agenda to dismantle systemic racism.
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During the debate, ISHR delivered a statement on behalf of Collectif Urgence notre police assassine, regretting that no commission of inquiry was established by the Council in the United States and elsewhere due to enormous diplomatic pressure from the United States and other allied countries. Nevertheless, ISHR and Collectif Urgence notre police assassine highlighted the critical opportunity the report provides. They called on the High Commissioner to centre the report on the experiences and contributions of victims and their families, as well as those of defenders and civil society working on police violence and systemic racism. ISHR also joined a statement by the American Civil Liberties Union based on a call made to the High Commissioner by 144 families of victims of police violence and over 360 civil society organisations.
ISHR appreciates the High Commissioner’s response to the calls, where she affirmed to the Council that the report will reflect and amplify the voices of victims of people of African descent, their families and communities. She affirmed that the report will examine the root causes that have enabled systemic racism and police violence. She also voiced her appreciation for the support of civil society and highlighted their indispensable role.
ISHR also appreciates Botswana’s statement which emphasised that countless families of victims of racism are looking to the Council to address the historical and systemic violations that they have experienced, which are often unchecked and never discussed nor acted upon.
The High Commissioner reaffirmed that the absence of accountability and redress for racially motivated police violence against people of African descent is unacceptable. She told the Council that her Office continues to receive reports of police brutality and racism against people of African descent, however :
‘Often it appears that investigations are opened only when video footage shared on social media creates a wave of public outrage placing heavy pressure on the authorities to act.’
The High Commissioner stressed the essential role of States to renew their efforts to break the cycle of brutality and injustices that generations of people of African descent have endured. She concluded with a plea, urging the Council to make this critical moment a turning point in the respect and protection of the human rights of people of African descent.
She announced that the preparation of the report is under way, including with the assistance of Special Procedures, and that she will provide further information during the next Council session in March 2021. Read the full statement by the High Commissioner here.
Watch the joint statement of Collectif Urgence notre police assassine and ISHR here:
Photo: Commons Wikipedia
 The report was mandated by the Council on 19 June 2020, following an urgent debate initiated by the African Group ‘on current racially inspired human rights violations, systemic racism, police brutality and violence against peaceful protests.’ It mandated the High Commissioner, with the assistance of relevant Special Mandate Holders, ‘to prepare a report on systemic racism, violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, especially those incidents that resulted in the death of George Floyd and other Africans and of people of African descent, to contribute to accountability and redress for victims.’ The resolution has also requested the High Commissioner to ‘examine government responses to antiracism peaceful process peaceful protests, including the alleged use of excessive force against protesters, bystanders and journalists.’ In addition, the resolution also requested that the High Commissioner ‘include updates on police brutality against Africans and people of African descent in all her oral updates to the Council.’
This week in an online event, 10 candidate States publicly spoke to an audience of around 200 people on their pledges as incoming Human Rights Council members for 2022 – 2024. They also faced questions on pressing human rights issues from both States and civil society organisations.
For over five years, Assa Traoré, the sister of Adama Traoré, a black French man who was killed at the hands of the police, has faced judicial harassment for campaigning for a transparent investigation to establish the responsibility of the gendarmes, a name given to the paramilitary police officers in France, for the death of her brother and for them to be brought to justice. ISHR joined with the Adama Committee to call on the French Government to urgently put an end to the judicial harassment of Assa Troaré. This harassment diverts the public attention from the justice that is expected for Adama’s death and appears intended to dissuade Assa from continuing her struggle.
ISHR welcomes the Council’s historic consensus decision, led by the Africa Group, to adopt a resolution mandating an independent international expert mechanism to address systemic racism and to promote racial justice and equality for Africans and people of African descent. The adoption of this resolution is testament to the resilience, bravery and commitment of victims, their families, their representatives and anti-racism defenders globally.
ISHR, as part of a broad civil society coalition from the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and international human rights organisations, is calling on the UN Human Rights Council, during its 47th session, to adopt a resolution that ensures effective accountability and follow-up to HRC Resolution 43/1 on systemic racism and police violence against Africans and people of African descent in the United States and globally.
It's difficult to encapsulate such a complex year in a word, but "interconnected" is one that comes to mind when reflecting on 2020. We are proud to have remained deeply interconnected with defenders and to have supported, protected and amplified their work at the national, regional and international levels. With them, the "essential workers" of our times, we strive for a 2021 full of freedom, equality, dignity and justice.
ISHR joined 171 families of victims of police violence in the United States and over 270 civil society organisations from more than 40 countries in sending letters to the UN High Commissioner and the African Group regarding the UN Human Rights Council’s role to ensure effective accountability and follow-up to HRC Resolution 43/1 on anti-Black racism and police brutality in the United States and globally.
In reaction to the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in the United States, anti-racist advocates and the families of victims have succeeded in turning the tide at the UN on the issue of anti-Black racism and violence policewomen. In a new video released today, ISHR highlights their essential contributions, in tribute to George Floyd and all victims of racially-motivated police violence.
In an online discussion organised by the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), Uyghur camp survivor Gülbahar Jalilova shared her story of long-term arbitrary detention. Her testimony echoes mounting evidence of human rights violations that call for systematic UN monitoring and public reporting.
Following limited remarks yesterday, ISHR joins with more than 20 organisations to press the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to initiate monitoring and reporting on the crisis targeting Uyghurs, as well as other key populations in China, especially in light of growing credible assessments of crimes against humanity.
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder on 25 May 2020 in the U.S., antiracism defenders and families of victims of police violence have been turning the tables at the UN on anti-Black racism and police brutality. In a new video released today, ISHR is highlighting the essential contributions of defenders and victims' families and paying tribute to Floyd and to all the victims of racially charged police violence.
16 organisations* share reflections on the key outcomes of the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, as well as the missed opportunities to address key issues and situations including pushbacks and other human rights violations faced by migrants and refugees, and the human rights situations in Algeria, Cameroon, China, India, Kashmir and the Philippines. A shortened version was delivered at the Council. Full written version below.