This past academic year, in response to a call for input from Michelle Bachelete, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Laura and Ava took the lead (collaborating with partners at Access Now), in drafting a 24-page submission providing data on U.S. law enforcement’s responses to anti-racism peaceful protests across the U.S. from June-Dec. 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s killing, including excessive, militarized and discriminatory use of force, arbitrary arrests, detention and cruel treatment, and use of surveillance tactics as well as inflammatory language against protestors, journalists, medics and legal observers. In their submission, Laura and Ava also provided an overview of federal, state and local laws and policies affecting protestors’ rights in the U.S. and the lack of accountability mechanisms for abuse of those rights. Their submission made 41 concrete recommendations for addressing systemic racism in U.S. law enforcement.
After their submission, the Clinic was invited to present its main points in a Zoom consultation with the High Commissioner’s staff in March. Last week, High Commission Bachelet presented her report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for policing reforms in the U.S. and other countries to address systemic racism against Africans and individuals of African descent.
The High Commissioner cited to Laura and Ava’s submission 12 times (a few times as sole authority) in making her recommendations to UN Member States. Read more on the High Commissioner’s landmark report.
Clinic Director Professor Hannah Garry was also quoted in a New York Times article about the U.N. forming a panel to investigate systemic racism in policing.
“It’s a very important step forward,” Professor Garry said of the panel. “I see this international mechanism as a precursor to a future commission of inquiry.”
Access Now has also issued a press release on these important developments as the Clinic joins in in welcoming the State Department’s request for U.N. human rights experts to investigate systemic racism and U.S. police violence against anti-racism protesters.