US criticised for police brutality, racism at UN rights review

GENEVA: Major powers, including allies, criticised the US for its human rights record on Monday during a United Nations (UN) review, citing the use of the death penalty, police violence against African Americans and the separation of migrant children from their families.

Activists also said that the Human Rights Council's examination of the US, the first since May 2015, amounted to an indictment of the Trump administration's policies and called for President-elect Joe Biden to usher in reforms.

Dozens of delegations took the floor to voice concerns and make recommendations.

"What we saw today was unsurprising condemnation by many countries around the world of the United States' human rights record," Mr Jamil Dakwar, director of the human rights programme at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told a news briefing.

"We've heard country after country... calling and urging the United States to take serious measures to address structural racism and police violence."

The Trump administration, which quit the Geneva forum in 2018 and accused it of an anti-Israel bias, defended US policies.

"Our presence in this process demonstrates our nation's commitment to human rights," Assistant Secretary of State Robert Destro told the talks.

The case of Mr George Floyd, an African American who died in May after a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignited massive protests across the US and the world, putting the country's human rights record in the spotlight once again.

US deputy assistant attorney general Alexander Maugeri said authorities in Minnesota had filed second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd's death.

"A number of member states raised concerns about discrimination and excessive force in policing. Where there is misconduct by police officers or law enforcement agencies, state and federal law provide remedies," Mr Maugeri said.

China and Russia called on the US to root out racism and police violence. France called on the US to halt executions and "guarantee women and girls access to their rights and sexual and reproductive health". - REUTERS