Police and Human Rights

May 19, 2017

All people have the right to due process, to equality before the law, and to peaceful protest. When communities raise concerns about abuses of these and other rights, they should not be treated as the enemy. Amnesty International calls on authorities to foster representative, accountable policing, and guarantee that people can exercise their right to peaceful assembly without fear of discrimination or other abuses.

Spotlight: Human Rights Abuses in Ferguson, Missouri

The shooting death on August 9, 2014 of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, and the heavy-handed policing tactics used in response to the largely peaceful protests that followed have brought forward a long overdue national conversation on race, policing, and justice. Amnesty International is calling for a full investigation into the circumstances of Michael Brown’s death, and for the Ferguson police department to review its policies and training procedures pertaining to the use of force to ensure that they comply with international human rights standards.

Police have an obligation to respect the human rights of all people. All forces – including the state and county police, and the National Guard – involved in policing ongoing protests in Ferguson must act in accordance with international human rights standards. All complaints of human rights abuses must be independently and impartially investigated, and those found responsible for abuses must be held accountable.

At the federal level, Amnesty International is calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the End Racial Profiling Act, and on U.S, Department of Justice to comply with requirements to collect and publish statistics about police shootings. A national commission should be convened to examine police tactics nationwide, including the use of excessive or unnecessary force, the militarization of local police forces and the policing of protests.

Amnesty International condemns the excessive, unnecessary or arbitrary use of force and will not rest until all policing in the United States respects human rights.