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United Nations panel attacks U.S. record on police brutality, torture

A demonstrator is arrested on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in New York.

A demonstrator is arrested on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, in New York.  (The Associated Press)

Police brutality, military interrogations and prison conditions were among the top concerns of a U.N. panel's report Friday that found the United States to be falling short of full compliance with an international anti-torture treaty.

The report by the U.N. Committee Against Torture, its first such review of the U.S. record since 2006, expressed concerns about allegations of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officials, particularly the Chicago Police Department's treatment of blacks and Latinos. 

According to Reuters, the panel also called for ending U.S. custody of undocumented immigrants including children in "prison-like detention facilities".

In addition, it called for restricting the use of taser weapons by police to life-threatening situations. But it had no specific recommendation or reaction to a grand jury's decision not to indict the white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri who fatally shot a black and unarmed teenager.

"We recommend that all instances of police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement officers are investigated promptly, effectively and impartially by an independent mechanism," said panel member Alessio Bruni as quoted by Reuters.

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The panel also called for tougher federal laws to define and outlaw torture, including with detainees at Guantanamo Bay and in Yemen, and for abolishing interrogation techniques that rely on sleep or sensory deprivation.

The U.N. committee's 10 independent experts are responsible for reviewing the records of all 156 U.N. member countries that have ratified the treaty against torture and all "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

"This report – along with the voices of Americans protesting around the country this week – is a wake-up call for police who think they can act with impunity," said Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who attended the review, according to Reuters.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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