Relatives of George Floyd and three other black people who were killed by police have joined some 600 rights groups to demand the U.N. Human Rights Council to “urgently” convene a session and look into a rise of police violence and repression of protests in the United States, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has said.
A spokesman for the Human Rights Council in Geneva confirmed that it had received a letter on Monday from the groups outlining their call, as ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests continue to gain traction well beyond the United States.
“I want people across the world and the leaders in the United Nations to see the video of my brother George Floyd, to listen to his cry for help, and I want them to answer his cry,” Floyd’s brother Philonese Floyd said in a statement.
“I want to appeal to the United Nations to help him. Help me. Help us. Help black men and women in America,” he added.
At least one-third of the council’s 47 member states would have to back the call for a special session in order for one to be called. However, the prospects of one being held now is uncertain.
The body had cut short its last session in March because of the coronavirus outbreak and has been grappling with ways to start it back up. The council was already scheduled to have the second of its three sessions each year another session starting in June.
The efforts have been complicated because the government of Switzerland, which has seen the COVID-19 pandemic recede in recent weeks, is for now still restricting all public gatherings to no more than 300 people.
The civil groups want an independent investigation into the recent killings of unarmed black people in the United States, as well as one into “violent law enforcement responses to protests.” The call included relatives of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown and Philando Castile.
“It’s time the United States face the same scrutiny and judgment it is quick to pass on to other countries,” said Jamil Dakwar, who heads the ACLU’s human rights program.
“As communities in the United States call on their leaders to divest from policing and end structural racism, the United Nations must support these domestic demands by holding the United States accountable for its human rights violations,” he added.