ISA US statementIgnacio Sanchez Amor, Chair of the General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian QuestionsCOPENHAGEN, 27 March 2018 – In response to the police shooting of unarmed 22-year-old Stephon Clark on 18 March in Sacramento, California, the Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee, Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain), called for greater accountability and policing reform in the United States.

“The latest case of a young, unarmed black man being gunned down by police is yet another indication of systemic problems within U.S. law enforcement. Police officers deploy lethal force with far too much regularity in the United States, even when there is no apparent immediate danger, and are far too rarely held accountable even when it is established that there was no justification for a shooting,” Sanchez Amor said. “My heart goes out to Mr. Clark’s family, for whom we must work to ensure access to justice.”

He added that the problem of police violence in the United States is an international concern and that thorough and independent investigations are needed when police use deadly force. He acknowledged that the relatively high gun ownership rate in the United States, compared with other OSCE countries, makes police responsibility particularly challenging and dangerous, but he stressed that questions must be asked given the frequency of police shootings of unarmed individuals.

“As we know, young black men are several times more likely than other Americans to die at the hands of police, but even setting aside the racial component, it is clear that police violence affects too many people of all races and ages. This level of police brutality is simply not seen in other established democracies. It is time for the United States to focus on this problem and take steps to ensure proper training for law enforcement, and ensure that officers are held legally accountable when they use excessive force,” he said.

In September 2016 Sanchez Amor wrote to colleagues in the United States Congress raising concerns about the high number of violent deaths of unarmed citizens at the hands of law enforcement, urging them to share with the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly information related to any changes in legislation or operational protocols that are being implemented to reverse the trend of police violence.