Amnesty Demands 'Impartial' Probe Into Ferguson Shooting

Image: Amnesty Demands 'Impartial' Probe Into Ferguson Shooting A mother and her daughter lay roses at the site where Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Missouri. (Xu Jing/Xinhua/Landov)

Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 11:01 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Amnesty International has called for a full-scale "impartial investigation" into the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, by a white police officer.

The human rights groups said it had taken "unprecedented" action following the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by sending a team of 13 people to the troubled St. Louis suburb last week to conduct preliminary inquiries, according to BuzzFeed.

The delegation, which included community trainers, researchers, and human rights observers, reported back to Amnesty International, which has since released three recommendations

The group said that "a prompt, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation into the shooting of Brown must take place. Brown's family must be kept informed throughout the investigation.

"Under international law, police officers suspected of having committed unlawful acts must be held to account through effective investigation, and where warranted, prosecuted."

Amnesty International, according to BuzzFeed, also recommended that "all police departments involved in policing the ongoing protests in Ferguson in response to Brown's death must act in accordance with international human rights standards.

"Any human rights abuses in connection with the policing of protests must be independently and impartially investigated, and those responsible held accountable."

Amnesty International also said "a thorough review of all trainings, policies, and procedures with regards to the use of force and the policing of protests should be undertaken."

Jasmine Heiss, a member of the Ferguson delegation, said the "cross-functional team" was an "unprecedented" step by Amnesty International USA, although she noted that the group's inquiries were hampered by police.

She told BuzzFeed that due to access restrictions placed on her group by police "it was very difficult to see anything once the curfew went into effect" after midnight.

The delegation was unable to discern whether police had taken proper and proportional action during the clashes with protesters, Heiss said, while calling the problem typical of "the overall lack of transparency in this investigation."

For the past several years, Amnesty International USA has focused on the use of excessive force by police in the U.S., following its Rights for All efforts in the late 1990s, which centered on investigations into the Los Angeles and Chicago police departments.

Heiss said that the group had also called for a swift and impartial investigation after the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida, with the main emphasis on "transparency" and keeping the family informed about the probe.

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