President of AFBA appointed as COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
On June 8, 2020, the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and Philando Castile, together with over 600 rights groups, petitioned the United Nations Human Rights Council to convene a special session to appoint a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the escalating situation of police violence and systemic racism in policing resulting in violations of international human rights laws against people of African descent in the United States.
Although the petition was supported by the 17-member Africa Group, the Human Rights Council succumbed to enormous diplomatic pressure from the United States and other allied countries and declined to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the United States.
Recognizing that the killings and maiming of unarmed Black people by the police and vigilante groups in the United States continue to escalate unabated and any effective domestic remedies are either non-existent or exacerbated by the policies of the federal government of the United States, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), and the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) decided to convene an International Commission of Inquiry composed of Distinguished Expert Members from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Caribbean1 to conduct an independent inquiry
1) Cases of victims of police violence, extrajudicial killings and maiming of people of African descent and entrenched structural racism in police practices throughout the U.S.;
2) The structural racism and bias in the criminal justice system that results in the impunity of law enforcement officers for violations of U.S. law and international human rights standards.
In 1979 IADL organized a similar Commission of International Experts to investigate a consistent pattern of gross and reliably attested violations of human and legal rights of minorities including policies of racial discrimination and segregation in the U.S. The report of those findings is appended.
The Commission will conduct fact-finding public hearings in various cities across the United States. Because of travel restrictions resulting from COVID-19, the consultations, meetings, and hearings will be conducted virtually.
Although the UN Human Rights Council declined to convene a specific inquiry focusing on the United States, the Human Rights Council in resolution A/HRC/RES/43/1 mandated the Office of the High Commissioner to prepare a report on systemic racism, and violations of international human rights law against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement agencies globally. We, therefore, intend to submit our report and findings of this Commission of Inquiry to the High Commissioner to assist her with her mandate.
We envision that the virtual public hearings will be conducted over a 4-week period with a target date of mid-January to mid-February 2021 and an overall time commitment from each Commissioner of seven (7) days. Because of your international reputation and distinguished career as a defender of human rights and the rule of law, we would be honored if you would agree to serve on this Commission of Inquiry.
The following are the persons we are inviting to participate in the Commission in addition to yourself:
- Judge Reine Alapini-Gansou, Benin
- Ms. Niloufer Bhagwat, India
- Mr. Xolani Maxwell Boqwana, South Africa
- His Excellency David Comissiong, Barbados
- Professor Victor Dankwa, Ghana
- Dr. Arturo Fournier Facio, Costa Rica
- Lord Anthony Gifford QC, United Kingdom and Jamaica
- Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia, Chile
- Ms. Sara Hossain, Bangladesh
- Ms. Hina Jilani, Pakistan
- Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, United Kingdom
- Professor Rashida Manjoo, South Africa
- Judge Howard Morrison QC, United Kingdom
- Professor Osamu Niikura, Japan
- Mrs. Mary Robinson, Ireland
- Justice Albert Louis Sachs, South Africa
- Professor Verene Shepherd, Jamaica