Extrajudicial killings of Blacks are increasing; activists say human rights being violated
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
–Universal Declaration of Human Rights-
“No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
–International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-
When George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, killed young Trayvon Martin in March of this year, sadly, members of the Black community were not surprised.
In their view, these types of killings were nothing new, the difference in this particular case was it became highly publicized. As more facts began to trickle out about the circumstances surrounding Trayvon’s death, many became outraged by what they called the callous disregard for Trayvon’s life and his right to defend himself. Additionally, the actions of Sanford, Florida law enforcement officials in dealing with Mr. Zimmerman raised suspicions that this would be another blatant case of injustice delivering yet another wound to the psyche of the Black community.
The narrative would be reinforced that this was not an isolated incident, and law enforcement has a “license to kill” when it comes to Blacks. The killing also hearkened back to a racially polarized time in the not so distant past, when it was nearly impossible for a White man to be charged with killing a Black man.
Those suspicions seem to have been verified with the recent release of a report compiled by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM) dealing with extrajudicial killings of Black people in 2012. As the researchers scanned news reports, more suspicious deaths were revealed. The report documents that in 120 cases in 2012, police officers, security guards and self-appointed law enforcers, who some call vigilantes, have acted as judge, jury and executioner, even in situations where it had not been determined whether a crime had been committed.
“Nowhere is a Black woman or man safe from racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance, and overriding suspicion,” said Rosa Clemente of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. “All Black people—regardless of education, class, occupation, behavior or dress—are subject to the whims of the police in this epidemic of state initiated or condoned violence,” she added.
Activists say a human rights issue confronts Black America, and is on par with abuses taking place in other parts of the globe. The MXGM’s research report states: “The oppression and police occupation of Black communities parallels the brutalization, denial of human rights and killings being committed by the Israeli occupying forces in Palestine, and the persecution of Afrodescendants in Columbia and the Indigenous peoples of Brazil over the past several years.”
Atty. Standish Willis of the National Conference of Black Lawyers traveled to Geneva, Switzerland in 2008 and was successful in bringing American cases of torture representing those seeking justice for decades to the United Nations. He said there are parallels in the struggle by Black people in the United States and the colonial experience of Blacks on the continent.
“It’s very analogous if you study the African colonialist experience,” said Atty. Willis. “Blacks have been victims of this since we have been here in this country,” said Atty. Willis. “In some ways we can definitely say African-Americans are in a colonial relationship in terms of police.”
International law experts have struggled to define the term “extrajudicial killing” however, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions defines them in part as: “Deaths due to the use of force by law enforcement officials or persons acting indirect or in direct compliance with the State, when the use of force is inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality.”
The UN Special Rapporteur also pointed to “the misperception that increased use of lethal force by law enforcement authorities is a necessary and effective response to situations of endemic criminality, and that greater respect for suspects’ individual rights must necessarily come at a cost to public security.” According to information found in the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions handbook: “High numbers of police killings are also often seen in countries with high crime rates, and especially where there are high levels of violent or street crime, and where there are organized or semi-organized violent gangs or militias. While police forces face many challenges in insecure environments, some governments and police forces fail to prepare appropriate crime-control strategies, and instead opt to use unlawful, short-term and heavy-handed tactics against alleged criminals. Killings can also be encouraged where there is high-level political or public support for violent policing. Senior police officers or officials can contribute to the number of police killings by tacitly approving of or openly encouraging them.”
It is no secret that racial profiling is a fundamental pillar of law enforcement strategies nationwide. Race is a dominant factor in the controversial “stop and frisk” policies that have recently come under fire from human rights organizations mainly in New York but also in other American cities.
Read the entire article here @ http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/National_News_2/article_9045.shtml
Download the entire report @ http://www.finalcall.com/reports/MXGM.PDF