UN panel singles out Chicago Police in US torture condemnation
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GENEVA — Police brutality, military interrogations and prisons were among the top concerns of a U.N. panel’s report Friday that found the United States to be falling short of full compliance with an international anti-torture treaty.
The report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture, its first such review of the U.S. record since 2006, expressed concerns about allegations of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, particularly the Chicago Police Department’s treatment of blacks and Latinos.
“We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism,” said panel member Alessio Bruni, noting “reported current police violence in Chicago especially against African-Americans and Latino young people.”
The report notes that no Chicago Police officer has been convicted for “acts of torture” and that its victims, mostly black, haven’t been compensated for their pain and suffering.
It also called for restricting the use of taser weapons by police to life-threatening situations. But it had no specific recommendation or reaction to a grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri who fatally shot a black and unarmed teenager.
The committee raises alarm over the widespread use of tasers by police forces, which has resulted in deaths in places such as Miami Beach, Florida, and Sauk Village — Dominique Franklin, a robbery suspect who died after officers used a stun gun on him while making an arrest in May in Old Town. An autopsy was inconclusive on the cause of Franklin’s death, who hit his head.
The report also criticizes the U.S. record on military interrogations, maximum security prisons, illegal migrants and solitary confinement while calling for tougher federal laws to define and outlaw torture, including with detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in Yemen. It also called for abolishing interrogation techniques that rely on sleep or sensory deprivation “aimed at prolonging the sense of capture.”
“There are numerous areas in which certain things should be changed for the United States to comply fully with the convention,” Bruni of Italy, one of the panel’s chief investigators, said at a news conference Friday in Geneva. He was referring to the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which took effect in 1987 and the United States ratified in 1994.
The U.N. committee’s 10 independent experts are responsible for reviewing the records of all 156 U.N. member countries that have ratified the treaty against torture and all “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
Chicago Police spokesman Martin Maloney responded Saturday that under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “CPD has made it a priority to foster a stronger partnership between police and residents, prevent police misconduct and swiftly investigate and address any incidents that do occur with transparency.
“Community policing” is “the center of our policing philosophy” Maloney said.
JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press
Contributing: Becky Schlikerman