The 12 commissioners who led the inquiry have called for the prosecutor of the international criminal court in The Hague to launch a probe into U.S. police violence. “This finding of crimes against humanity was not given lightly, we included it with a very clear mind,” Hina Jilani, one of the experts, told The Guardian. “We examined all the facts and concluded that there are situations in the U.S, that beg the urgent scrutiny of the ICC.”
In addition to the ICC prosecutor opening an investigation, commissioners have outlined additional requirements to the U.S. government and Congress: demilitarization of local police forces, a ban on no-knock warrants, and barring qualified immunity allowing officers to bypass civil lawsuits, which they say “amounts to condoning brutal police violence.” However, the U.S. doesn’t view the ICC as a legitimate authority, which would make an investigation difficult.
The commission has accused the U.S. of a number of offenses, including breaching its responsibilities to international human rights; allowing an “alarming national pattern of disproportionate use of deadly force not only by firearms but also by Tasers” on Black people; and permitting a “culture of impunity” where officers aren’t often held accountable for their violent transgressions. The inquiry also said that police’s reliance on chokeholds and other means of restraint is commensurate with torture, which international law deems a crime against humanity.
The report was brought on by protests that swept the nation last year following the police murder of George Floyd. Just last week, Derek Chauvin was found guilty in Floyd’s death. The panel held virtual hearings earlier this year, where some victims’ families were able to speak. Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray were among the 44 Black people that the commission highlighted.
The inquiry provides some grim statistics about the systemic discrimination that plagues the U.S., with the report saying that the country functions on two systems of law: “One is for white people, and another for people of African descent,” it says. Around 15,000 people have died at the hands of law enforcement since 2005. In that 16 year span of time, 104 officers have faced murder or manslaughter charges in connection to their crimes, and only 35 of those officers have been convicted.