Police brutality is the use of excessive force by police that leads to harassment, annoyance, and restriction of citizens’ freedom (as stated by Reiss 1971; cited by Cao 1999). Others interpret the situation as citizens being treated with less respect and dignity than they would expect. Due to the nature of their job, the likelihood that law enforcement agencies will include or exclude police from committing crimes is high. There are many situations in which police are likely to be brutal and aggressive, so they must react quickly to these situations. Law enforcement agencies are required to be responsible in order to decrease the brutality rates. There have been numerous reports of police brutality in America in the past, leading to an increase in concern. Reports indicate that the US police have surpassed all other groups when it comes to the violation of the human rights of minorities. This has caused distrust between the police and the people. This paper will examine police brutality in America and what can be done to stop it.
What is “POLICE BRUTALITY”?
Sometimes, the term “police cruelty” refers to various violations of human rights by police. This could include beatings and racial abuses, torture, or the indiscriminate use riot control agents at demonstrations.
WHY IS POLICE BRUTALITY A HUMAN REST ISSUE?
Unlawful use of force by the police can lead to people being denied their right to life. If the excessive or unnecessary police force is used, it can also lead to torture or other ill-treatment. Unlawful use of force by police may also be a violation of the rights to freedom from discrimination, liberty, security, and equal protection under the law.
Police can use force illegally, causing injury and death in places like Minneapolis, Rio de Janeiro, and the streets of Minneapolis. We’ve seen it too often in America and elsewhere that police can kill or injure people in arrests motivated by racism. Police are quick to respond to protests and demonstrations in a multitude of other cases. In 2019, and 2020, Hong Kong police used tear gas and rubber bullets to harass protestors. Officers who use force illegally to kill or injure protesters are often not brought to justice. It is important to understand your rights and what the police can and cannot do. We must ensure that the police do not use force against the law and that anyone who murders illegally is held accountable.
Are police allowed to kill people?
International laws and standards govern how and when police may use force, particularly lethal force. The UN Basic Principles on Use of Force and Firearms. by Law Enforcement Officials (BPUFF), is the international standard that governs police use of force. It is essential to remember that all state authorities, including police officers, have the obligation to respect and preserve the right to life. International law requires that police officers only use lethal force in extreme circumstances. This is when the police use lethal force to protect themselves and others from imminent death or serious injury. This criterion is not met by many police killings that we have seen all over the globe. The USA saw George Floyd, Michael Brown and Breonna Taylor as unarmed Black men who were killed by police. During the November 2019 protests in Iran, police killed and shot hundreds of demonstrators who were not a risk to their safety. This included at least 23 children. Witnesses in the Philippines have reported seeing police shoot and kill poor people suspected of selling or using drugs, as they were begging for mercy.
WHAT CAUSES POLICY BRUTALITY?
There are often several factors that contribute to high levels of police brutality in countries like the United States. These include inadequate laws, racial discrimination, conflict or insecurity, as well as entrenched impunity. Regimes that routinely violate other human rights, such as freedom of expression or peaceful assembly, often authorize excessive police response to protests. This has been seen in Iran, Iraq, and Sudan as well as Hong Kong and Nicaragua. This can lead to violence and a vicious cycle of impunity for police killings. Officers in Brazil, for instance, routinely kill innocent people – mostly young Black men. They know that these killings are not investigated or prosecuted.
HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO DIED AT THE HANDS OF THE POLICE DUE TO POLICE BRUTALITY?
Because many governments don’t publish or collect this data, it is difficult to obtain reliable statistics on police killings. According to the Small Arms Survey, 19,000 people died in ‘legal interventions’ (interactions with police) between 2007-2012. The majority of data available refers to specific countries and time periods. These are often estimated or provided by human rights groups or NGOs. Here are some examples. In 2019, 1,810 people were killed by Rio de Janeiro police, Brazil – an average five deaths per day. In 2019, Kenyan police killed 122 people. Police in Iraq killed 600 protestors between October 2019 and January 2020. Between 2015-2018, more than 500 Jamaicans were killed by police officers. More than 300 others were injured or shot. Every year, around 1000 Americans are shot and killed by the police.
POLICE BRUTALITY and RACISM
All forms of discrimination are prohibited by international human rights law. Law enforcement should not treat anyone differently because of race, gender or sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, political opinion, status, national or social origin, disability or other characteristics. Everybody has the right to equal treatment according to the law. But racism and other forms discrimination are embedded in law enforcement and justice system around the globe. These include racial profiling, discriminatory police checks, selective enforcement of drug policies, and broad application anti-terror laws. Amnesty International documented in the UK how Gangs Matrix is used by London’s Met Police to criminalize and stigmatize young Black men. For reasons that are as trivial as what they listen to and the videos they view online, many people have been identified as suspected gang members. Individuals are subject to stop and search operations by the police once they have been identified as Gangs Matrix members. The stigma associated with a gang can also make it difficult for people to find employment, housing, or education. The Gangs Matrix was found to be violating data protection laws in 2018. It failed to distinguish between victims and offenders. Some reforms were made.
France case study
The French Ombudsman states that young black men are 20 times more likely than others to be subject to police identity checks. In 2015, France introduced emergency laws that allowed police to conduct thousands of discriminatory raids on houses and arrests. Most of these raids were directed at Muslims. Some people were targeted because they believed their religion was the only reason police entered mosques and forced them to open their doors. Adama Traore was a young Black man who died in police custody. He was arrested during an identification check and was pinned to the ground. Adama’s family still awaits justice.
Here are more examples of discrimination in police work
Police brutality further involves routine harassment and abuse of LGBTI people all over the globe. For example, in 2017, authorities in Russia’s Chechnya launched a series of attacks against gay and lesbian people. Hundreds of gay Chechnyan men were taken into custody and tortured. Many were executed at secret detention centers. The Dominican Republic is home to many sex workers and trans women, who face a lot of abuse from police, including beatings, rape, and humiliation.
USA: Black Americans are dying because of police brutality
George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. The shocking killing provoked protests in the USA and elsewhere calling for accountability and a systemic shift in police practice. George’s murder occurred after a string of racist acts against Black people. This demonstrates extreme violence and discrimination. The USA police commit human rights violations at an alarming rate, especially against Black people and racial/ethnic minorities. Protesters demand fundamental reforms to the US justice system in order to stop the police violence that has been ravaging communities of color across the country, especially Black communities.
5 facts on police force use in the USA
None of the United States adheres to international laws and standards regarding police use of lethal force or police brutality. The majority of US police officers who have killed people are using firearms. Many times officers have shot multiple people, which indicates that they used force that was not necessary or proportionate. For example, Michael Brown, an unarmed man, was shot six more times. Mapping Police Violence shows that Blacks accounted for 24% of all police officers killed in 2019, despite representing only 13%. The 1996 law authorizing the US Department of Defense’s provision of surplus equipment to law enforcement agencies allowed it to do so. Police now have equipment that can be used for military purposes to deploy at protests.
Stopping police brutality in the USA
For long civil society organizations have been calling for reform of the police in the USA. These crucial steps could make everyone safer. Congress and all 50 US states should pass laws that limit police use of lethal force. The Department of Justice should publish detailed and disaggregated information on police officers who have been killed. Every case of police using lethal force by police should be investigated thoroughly, impartially, and transparently. Those responsible should be held accountable. The Department of Justice should oversee law enforcement agencies that violate human rights. Consistent enforcement of the law would resul in reduced cases of police brutality.
No one is above the law, especially those who are obligated to follow it. Every case of police brutality through using lethal force must be investigated thoroughly, independently, impartially, and transparently. If the evidence suggests that the killing was illegal, the officer should be prosecuted. Amnesty documented that police officers who inflict or kill people illegally often get away with it. This can happen for many reasons. Sometimes, the police or security forces may threaten witnesses, the judiciary, or survivors and force them to drop their charges. Sometimes, laws are passed to give the police immunity or otherwise block justice, even when they violate the law, as in Brazil.
When he took office in June 2016, President Duterte directed police to kill any person they believed to be involved with the drug trade. He also promised to protect security forces from prosecution. Accountability is almost impossible when the President sanctioned murder and promised immunity.
POLICY PROTESTS AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY
The government has an obligation to ensure that all citizens have the right to peaceful assembly and protest.
Police conduct during protests is subject to clear international guidelines
Police have the responsibility to facilitate peaceful protests. They have the responsibility to calm down tensions if they arise. The peaceful protest should not be turned into a violent assembly by protestors who engage in violent acts. The police should ensure that peaceful protestors can continue to demonstrate. An act of violence committed by a small number of people does not justify the use of force in indiscriminate situations. Police must use force only when necessary to protect the safety of others. If all other options have failed, the police must disperse the protest. If people are able to leave the site, tear gas and water cannons should be used to disperse protests. These can only be used when there is widespread violence or where other means of controlling the violence have failed. It is not recommended that you use firearms to disperse crowds.
SOLUTIONS TO POLICE BRUTALITY
Each country has its own laws. There is no universal solution to making them more fair and safer. Amnesty International’s guidelines for law enforcement use of force clearly outline how police and other security agencies around the globe can improve their laws and policies.
The following are some of the most important recommendations:
Law must regulate the power of police officers to use force and firearms as this would help stop police brutality . Law must protect life. Lethal force can only be used to protect against the imminent threat of serious injury or death. If force has been used by police to cause injury or death, the investigation must be thorough, impartial, independent, prompt, and impartial. Fair trials must be held for those responsible. Police should follow their duty to facilitate peaceful protests and not use force as their starting point. When it comes to the use of lethal force, people in detention are entitled to the same rights as everyone else.