This is an editorial by Carol White Llewellyn and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Management, Staff or Board of Directors of RCTV.
Yesterday on facebook, a friend posted a Huffington Post article from August 30 titled UN Condemns U.S. Police Brutality, Calls For ‘Stand Your Ground’ Review. I was encouraged that scrutiny by the United Nations would lead to reform in police codes of conduct and reduce incidence of police violence.
Then I investigated the number of times the U.S. has received such mandates from the U.N., and a nasty pattern of dereliction emerged.
The United States is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a pact that was signed by 167 countries in 1976 and is now ratified by 177 countries. This Covenant outlines rules “to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant… without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour [sic], sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. ”
The Covenant goes to great length to respect the rights of countries to self-determine issues such as the death penalty, hard labor as criminal punishment, etc. It does, however, outline the humane conditions under which those punishments be employed.
It is inflexible on other issues of human rights, such as prohibiting slavery, conditions of arrest, the precept that all people shall be equal before the courts and tribunals, etc. It mandates that “everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention.”
It’s an interesting and enlightening document that I encourage all to read.
Sadly, the U.S. falls short on adhering to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that it helped put into place. The Huffington Post stated that when brought before a review panel of 18 independent experts, “U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper told the panel that his nation had made ‘great strides toward eliminating racial discrimination’ but conceded that ‘we have much left to do’.”
Cases such as those of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin and most recently, Michael Brown, have shed light on how short the U.S. falls from adhering to the protections guaranteed under the U.N.’s Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The panel advised that the controversial Stand Your Ground Statute “be reviewed to ‘remove far-reaching immunity and ensure strict adherence to principles of necessity and proportionality when deadly force is used for self-defense’.”
The Committee also expressed concern over ” the practice of racial profiling of racial or ethnic minorities by law enforcement officials, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Transportation Security Administration, border enforcement officials and local police.”
One would hope that governing forces within the U.S. would listen to and act forcefully upon the recommendations called for by the U.N. But more powerful than state regulation of these Covenants is community-adopted self-regulation. It is the residents and stakeholders within each community that would benefit most from holding a Covenant-framed mirror up to its public policies, law enforcement regulations, judicial processes and educational or other standards, and rooting out any inequities found.
Editorial and photo by: Carol White Llewellyn
Photo is of one of the totems within the 2001 sculpture “The Seat of Forgetting and Remembering” by Adriana ippel Slutzky from Leroy, NY. The sculpture is located near the bluff of the Lower Falls.