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The Advocates Reacts to Federal Findings, Calls for End Discriminatory Police Practices

June 16, 2023

June 16, 2023, Minneapolis, MN

The Advocates for Human Rights Reacts to Federal Findings, Calls for Ongoing Commitment to End Discriminatory Police Practices

The U.S. Department of Justice today released its report documenting systemic abuses and a "pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law." These findings indicate serious human rights violations, a pattern of discrimination against Black and Indigenous people, and findings of violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and of First Amendment rights. These findings follow a report by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights last year.

As Minneapolis moves forward, The Advocates for Human Rights calls for the development of laws, policies, and practices which comply with international standards on police use of force and on the investigation of potentially unlawful deaths caused by state actors.

"Some of the core international standards for preventing unlawful killings by state actors were developed here in Minnesota," said Robin Phillips, Executive Director of The Advocates for Human Rights. "As Minneapolis moves forward, we hope these standards will finally apply here at home."

Investigations into state-involved killings must be prompt, effective and thorough, independent and impartial, and transparent. The international standards for investigation of unlawful state-involved killings are set forth in the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.

International standards around police use of force provide basic principles to avoid human rights violations. These standards seek to counter the risks of human rights violations which attend the deployment of armed state actors. In any use of force, law enforcement must respect the principles of necessity and proportionality.

  • Each use of force must be justified and justifiable.
  • Rules governing the use of force, including weapons that may lawfully be used, should be set out in national legislation and other administrative provisions.
  • Medical assistance shall be provided to any person, including a criminal suspect, who has been injured during action by any law enforcement official.
  • The police and other law enforcement officials shall be held accountable for their use of force.
  • Operations shall be planned to minimize the risk of death or injury.

International standards on police use of force and investigation of unlawful deaths derive from core treaty obligations which recognize the right to life, security of the person, equal protection, and non-discrimination. International handbooks and codes of conduct for law enforcement officials flesh out international legal standards. Core international treaties and documents address police misconduct, including the Universal Declaration Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, and the Convention against Torture (CAT). Excessive use of force by police is specifically prohibited by two major international treaties to which the United States is party: the ICCPR and the CAT.