U.N. Human Rights Committee Scrutinizes Border Patrol Use of Force

Committee Suggests Customs and Border Protections be Held Accountable for Excessive Use of Force

Download: The Advance Unedited Version containing the observations of the ICCPR.

U.S. Southern Border Region – The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) applauds the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s demand for improved reporting and effective investigations of excessive use-of-force cases by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a review of the United States human rights obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

“We are encouraged by the enhanced scrutiny demanded by this international rights body,” said Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Regional Center for Border Rights at the ACLU of New Mexico and co-chair of the Southern Border Communities Coalition. Earlier this month, Gaubeca participated as a member of civil society in the U.S. review under the (ICCPR) held in Geneva, Switzerland.

The United States Border Patrol, the nation’s largest-law enforcement agency, has come under fire by international bodies as cases of excessive use of force continue to mount.

Last month, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights expressed deep concern over the deaths of migrants caused by the U.S. Border Patrol.

“Today’s statement by the United Nations Human Rights Committee is yet another reminder to Congress and the Administration that the time to control the U.S. Border Patrol is now,” states Christian Ramírez, Director of the SBCC and Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego.

Since January 2010, there have been at least 27 deaths as the result of CBP officials using lethal force on both the U.S.-Canada and the U.S.-Mexico borders. (A 28th death was the result of failure to provide timely and adequate medical attention to an individual who was brutalized while in CBP custody).

Of the 27 cases, seven were minors and at least 10 were U.S. citizens.  Six were also Mexican nationals standing in Mexico when killed, three of whom were teen-agers, ages 15, 16, and 17. One person was a U.S. citizen mother of five who was shot and killed by an agent who refused to step out of the way of the car she was driving.

The Advance Unedited Version containing the observations of the ICCPR review can be found here.

Excerpt of related section of the concluding observations:

Excessive use of force by law enforcement officials  

11. The Committee is concerned about the still high number of fatal shootings by certain police forces, including, for instance, in Chicago, and reports of excessive use of force by certain law enforcement officers including the deadly use of tasers, which have a disparate impact on African Americans, and use of lethal force by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the U.S.-Mexico border (arts. 2, 6, 7, and 26).

The State Party should (a) step up its efforts to prevent the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers by ensuring compliance with the 1990 UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers; (b) ensure that the new CBP directive on use of deadly force is applied and enforced in practice; and (c) improve reporting of excessive use of force violations and ensure that reported cases of excessive use of force are effectively investigated, alleged perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, that investigations are re-opened when new evidence becomes available, and that victims or their families are provided with adequate compensation.

The Southern Border Communities Coalition (SBCC) brings together more than 60 organizations from San Diego, California, to Brownsville, Texas, to ensure that border enforcement policies and practices are accountable and fair, respect human dignity and human rights, and prevent the loss of life in the region.

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Author: Communications Director

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