UN Human Rights Office Denounces Extreme Force on “Peaceful Protesters” in Portland

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The United Nations has denounced what it calls “disproportionate use of force” on “peaceful demonstrations” and protests as unrest continues to grip several US cities, especially Portland, Oregon.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (UNHRC) spokesperson Elizabeth Throssell addressed the issue of US authorities deploying federal security officers in Portland and other cities to control demonstrations against racism and police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody back in May.

“Peaceful demonstrations that have been taking place in cities in the US, such as Portland, really must be able to continue without those participating in them—and also, the people reporting on them, the journalists—risking arbitrary arrest or detention, being subject to unnecessary, disproportionate or discriminatory use of force, or suffering other violations of their rights,” Throssell said, according to UN News.

Throssell went on, saying that reports of unidentified police officers detaining protestors are worrying “because it may place those detained outside the protection of the law, and may give rise to arbitrary detention and other human rights violations.”

Throssell contended that federal and local security forces must be properly and clearly identified and should only use force when necessary and in accordance with international standards.

“Also, it is important that any victims of unnecessary or excessive use of force do have the right to remedy, and there should be, as we often say, prompt, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into any allegations of human rights violations, and that should ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” Throssel added.

UN News concludes:

In light of demonstrations across the world, the UN Human Rights Committee, which monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, has been analyzing the right to peaceful assembly.

Ms. Throssell said the Committee will issue a general comment, or guidance, on 29 July, covering issues that include both physical and online protests, public order, and the work of the media.

Throssell’s statements come just weeks after 53 member nations of the UNHRC expressed their ardent support of China’s sweeping laws to crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

The controversial new laws punish crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, essentially criminalizing Hong Kong citizens’ rights to assembly and free speech.

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