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Swiss torture rapporteur denounces US ‘racial terror’

Published on 05/06/2020

The UN’s special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer of Switzerland, has called on the US to launch independent investigations into excessive force used by police against Afro-Americans.

“Today we, UN experts, stand united in condemning modern-day racial terror lynchings in the USA and demand systemic reform and justice,” he tweeted. “Impunity must end here and now!”

In a joint statement on Friday with other independent UN experts, he deplored US president Donald Trump’s responses to the recent demonstrations that have followed the death of George Floyd at police hands. “We are deeply concerned that the nation is on the brink of a militarized response that re-enacts the injustices that have driven people to the streets to protest,” says the statement.

The experts say the protests are against “systemic racism that produces state-sponsored racial violence”. Other manifestations of this “systemic racism” include “the racially disparate death rate and socioeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disparate and discriminatory enforcement of pandemic-related restrictions”.

They also raised concern about police responses to recent demonstrations in some cities, saying they were “marked by violence, arbitrary arrest, militarisation and the detention of thousands of protesters. Reporters of colour have been targeted and detained, and some journalists have faced violence and harassment.”