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.
On 5 October 2021, Marcia Rigg, the sister of Sean Rigg, addressed the 48th session of the UN Human Rights Council during the general debate on Item 9. She told the Council that her brother died following excessive restraint by four UK Metropolitan police officers in 2008. Sean was extremely unwell and required urgent medical assistance. Arrested for theft of his own passport, unnecessarily restrained face down for 8 minutes with force applied to the back of his neck and left shoulder, driven at speed in a cramped cage position to the police station instead of a hospital, kept for 11 minutes in the van with no risk assessment and removed in a collapsed state. Sean died on camera at the feet of multiple officers who claimed he was asleep, still handcuffed and practically naked, all within less than an hour of his arrest.
After long delays, legal challenges and arduous campaigning, all officers were cleared of wrongdoing in 2019. Sean’s story is like many others as highlighted in the High Commissioner’s report to the Council in June 2021.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Marcia joined with other victims’ families from across the globe spoke with the UN High Commissioner about their experiences, which were strikingly similar.
The High Commissioner called for a transformative racial justice agenda, and to dismantle systemic racism. Many States at the Human Rights Council condemned the racially discriminatory and violent practices perpetrated by law enforcement officials against Black people, and systemic racism in the law enforcement and criminal justice systems. These strong words of the UN and its member States require the strongest of actions.
Bereaved families in the UK and beyond have had to fight for accountability and struggle to have their voices heard and their experiences counted. The UN must put victims’ families at the heart of this important process.
ISHR stands in solidarity with all victims and their families in their plights to be heard, and get justice for their loved ones.
Watch the joint statement here:
In June 2021, the High Commissioner issued a groundbreaking report which analysed 190 deaths of Black people during or following contact with law enforcement officers across the world. The report found that police officers are rarely held accountable in these cases due to lack of independent and robust oversights and lack of cooperation by police officers in investigations and attempts in some instances to proactively undermine accountability processes.
In July 2021, the Council established an independent international expert mechanism to address systemic racism and promote racial justice and equality for Africans and people of African descent. The mechanism, which will comprise three experts with law enforcement and human rights expertise, is mandated to pursue transformative change for racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement globally. It is tasked to consider 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. In addition, the Council mandated annual reporting of the High Commissioner on systemic racism, violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies, and to contribute to accountability and redress
Starting from June 2022, the new expert mechanism and the High Commissioner will present their written annual reports to the Council followed by a debate that prioritises the participation of directly affected individuals and communities.
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.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights gave her second update to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on 19 March 2021. She reaffirmed that she will center the lived experiences of victims and their families, emphasised the necessity for the HRC to continue addressing systemic racism, and warned that without addressing the root causes, impunity for racist police violence will prevail.