World, Americas

George Floyd case verdict 'momentous': UN rights chief

Michelle Bachelet says any verdict other than guilty in Floyd case 'would have been a travesty of justice'

Peter Kenny   | 21.04.2021
George Floyd case verdict 'momentous': UN rights chief


The guilty verdict in a US court against a former police officer for the murder of George Floyd was "momentous" and "any other result would have been a travesty of justice," the UN human rights chief said Wednesday.

Michelle Bachelet said in a statement that the verdict "is also a testament to the courage and perseverance of George Floyd's family and many others in calling for justice."

“As the jury recognized, the evidence, in this case, was crystal clear," she added.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday was found guilty on all three charges he faced in the 2020 death of Floyd, which triggered worldwide protests.

It took the jury about 10 hours to reach a verdict, which touched off jubilation outside the courthouse.

The charges included second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder.

Bachelet said that for countless other victims of African descent and their families in the United States and throughout the world, "the fight for justice goes on."

Excessive force

"The battle to get cases of excessive force or killings by police before the courts, let alone win them, is far from over," said Bachelet.

She said that impunity for crimes and human rights violations by law enforcement officers must end, and there is a need for robust measures to prevent further arbitrary killings.

"As we have painfully witnessed in recent days and weeks, reforms to policing departments across the US continue to be insufficient to stop people of African descent from being killed," said Bachelet.

"It is time to move on from talk of reform to truly rethinking policing as currently practiced in the US and elsewhere."

The rights chief said the Floyd case also helped reveal, clearly, how much remains to be done to reverse the tide of systemic racism that permeates the lives of people of African descent.

Systemic racism

She said there is a need to move to "whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches" that dismantle systemic racism.

"I recognize that in the US, important steps are being put in place with that end in mind. These efforts must accelerate and expand and must not be diluted when the public focus moves elsewhere," said the statement.

Now is the time to critically examine the context in which George Floyd's killing took place by revisiting the past "and examining its toxic traces in today's society."

Bachelet said the entrenched legacy of discriminatory policies and systems, including slavery and the transatlantic trade and the impact of colonialism, need decisive uprooting to achieve racial justice and equality.

"If they are not, the verdict, in this case, will just be a passing moment when the stars aligned for justice, rather than a true turning point," said Bachelet.

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