Lethal Force

There is a widespread and persistent problem of unnecessary or excessive force by police in the United States. The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford and many others have set off a long-overdue conversation on race, policing and justice as well as protests around the country.

The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials set out strict human rights safeguards for the use of force. These standards provide that law enforcements should only use force as a last resort and that the amount of force must be proportionate to the threat encountered and designed to minimize damage and injury. Amnesty International is concerned that state laws on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers do not comply with international standards and is calling on all states to review and revise their use of lethal force statutes in line with those standards.

Lethal Force

There is a widespread and persistent problem of unnecessary or excessive force by police in the United States. The recent deaths of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Ezell Ford and many others have set off a long-overdue conversation on race, policing and justice as well as protests around the country.

The UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials set out strict human rights safeguards for the use of force. These standards provide that law enforcements should only use force as a last resort and that the amount of force must be proportionate to the threat encountered and designed to minimize damage and injury. Amnesty International is concerned that state laws on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers do not comply with international standards and is calling on all states to review and revise their use of lethal force statutes in line with those standards.

Our campaign aims to prevent the unlawful use of lethal force by police officers by demonstrating the need for all states to ensure that legislation is in place that meets international standards on the use of lethal force by police officers. Amnesty looks forward to working with individuals and organizations around the country to demand that:

  • President Obama establish and fund a national commission that would require a comprehensive review and implementation of reforms to the US criminal justice system, including as pertains to the use lethal force by law enforcement, and discrimination in policing. Reforms must be rooted in adherence to all international human rights standards.
  • The Department of Justice collect and publish nationwide data on the use of force by police officers, including the use of lethal force.
  • Federal, state and local police authorities take steps to ensure that unnecessary or excessive force and other abuses are not tolerated in either law, policy or practice; all allegations of police abuse be promptly, fairly and independently investigated and those responsible brought to justice; and that compensation is paid to the victims or their families.
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Lethal Force Updates
Blog
On March 15th, the International Day against Police Brutality will again remind the world of the lives lost and communities changed forever due to the unlawful use of deadly force by police. Last year...
Victory

The demolition of the homes of 53 Roma families living in the Grmeč informal settlement in Zemun municipality has been suspended on the order of the Serbian government. All families living in the s...

Report

All 50 states and the District of Columbia fail to comply with international standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, which require that lethal force should only be used as...

Lethal Force Issues