FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 28, 2016
New York, NY— Amnesty International USA’s team of human rights observers tonight concluded its monitoring of protests at both the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention, to ensure that people’s human rights to peaceful assembly and expression were respected. This marks the first time Amnesty International has deployed human rights observers to the national conventions in the U.S. to specifically monitor demonstrations and law enforcement response.
“At both conventions, Amnesty International USA set out to help protect people's fundamental right to protest peacefully, and over the last two weeks we've seen thousands of people taking to the streets to express a wide range of opinions,” said Eric Ferrero, Amnesty International USA’s Deputy Executive Director for Strategic Communications and Digital Initiatives. “Our independent human rights observers saw largely peaceful protests in both Cleveland and Philadelphia. At times, we saw a heavy police presence in both cities, with police mostly ensuring that people could protest peacefully and safely. We've documented good police practices, some questionable issues with safety and coordination, and some areas where we're still gathering information and context, particularly around arrests and detentions.”
A team of a dozen trained, independent observers were at dozens of protests, demonstrations, and marches in both Cleveland and Philadelphia during the conventions. The observers monitored both planned, permitted protests and spontaneous demonstrations, to ensure that law enforcement officials facilitated and protected people’s fundamental right to protest peacefully.
Amnesty International has a long history and depth of expertise monitoring protests and investigating police conduct. Since the organization’s founding 55 years ago, it has deployed researchers and independent human rights observers to a range of situations, including the Gezi Park protests in Turkey and in Egypt for the “Arab Spring” protests. In the United States, AIUSA has recently monitored protests both in Ferguson, MO, and Baltimore, MD, in the wake of police killings – documenting multiple violations of the human rights of protestors, journalists, and others. After additional killings by police in the U.S. in recent weeks, protesters and journalists have reported a range of human rights violations during protests in other cities following cases of police use of lethal force.
“The observers will now begin compiling their notes and records to document lessons that can help shape how the right to protest can be protected in the future. Later this summer, the delegation will outline its findings for law enforcement agencies in Cleveland and Philadelphia, as well as state and federal policymakers,” said Ferrero. “We’ll document positive aspects of how police protected people's right to protest, as well as problematic or questionable aspects. While, overall, there were few flashpoints between demonstrators and police, there are still many lessons to take away from these conventions about protecting people's human right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
For more on Amnesty International USA's delegation
AIUSA’s letter to the Cleveland Police Department
AIUSA’s letter to the Philadelphia Police Department
A list of best practices on the policing of protests with respect for human rights, as identified by Amnesty International and shared with both police departments
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 7 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.