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US slammed at UN for human rights violations, police brutality

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Demonstrators protesting the killings of Michael Brown and Vonderrit Myers are confronted by police in riot gear on October 12, 2014 in St Louis, Missouri. (AFP photo)

The United States has been sharply criticized over its human rights record by numerous countries at the United Nations Office at Geneva.

Member nations blasted the US on Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, rebuking the country over police brutality, racial injustice, detention of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay and the continued use of the death penalty.

During the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the US, country after country urged the US to strengthen legislation and expand training to eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers.

People march under a banner that reads "Stop Racist Police Terror," Baltimore, Maryland, May 2, 2015.
Children look at posters calling for an end to police violence in Baltimore, Maryland on May 10, 2015. (AFP photo)

The UN’s UPR periodically examines the human rights performance of all 193 UN member states. The US faced its first review in 2010, when member states presented the delegation with 240 recommendations. However, the US has failed to act on many of those recommendations, according to Human Rights Watch.

"I'm not surprised that the world's eyes are focused on police issues in the US," said Alba Morales, who investigates the US criminal justice system at Human Rights Watch.

"There is an international spotlight that's been shone [on the issues], in large part due to the events in Ferguson and the disproportionate police response to even peaceful protesters," she said.

UN member states also called on the Obama administration to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to stop the use of the death penalty, provide adequate protections for migrant workers and protect the rights of indigenous peoples.

US Congress has omitted a plan to shut down the Guantanamo Bay military prison from an annual defense authorization bill.

Among the other concerns raised by UN member states over US human rights violations was the continued use of child labor, human trafficking and sexual violence against Native American women.

Pakistan Ambassador to the UN Zamir Akram told the council that his country has "serious concerns about the human rights situation in the US."

Akram made eight recommendations to the US delegation, including to bring the use of American drones in line with international norms and to compensate innocent victims of drone strikes with money.

He also said the US should end police brutality against African-Americans, end illegal detentions at Guantánamo Bay and prosecute people involved in a CIA torture program that began after the September 11, 2001 attacks.


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