BLAM UK Founder sends an urgent warning to UN Human Rights experts and committees
Dear UN CERD Committee and UN Experts,
My name is Ife Thompson, I am a Criminal Defence Pupil Barrister, a Community Activist, Founder of BLAM UK and a United Nations Fellow for PAD 2020.
I am emailing to highlight the fatal police killing of Chris Kaba a young 24-year-old Black Man that took place in the UK. Chris Kaba was shot dead by UK armed police whilst still in the car and unarmed, after a police chase. The car he was driving was not registered to him, so the police did not know who was in the car during the police chase. The police killing took place on Monday 5th September 2022 in the late hours of the evening. This is the second death of a Black man after police contact with the Met Police this year, the first one being Oladeji Omishore.
The police killing of Chris Kaba engages the following international human rights violations under the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and of the International Convention on the elimination of racial discrimination.
Under Article 16 of the UN Convention Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment prohibits “other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article 1…” The former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, noted that the misuse of weapons, such as batons, stun guns, shields and belts, and tasers, and chemical control substances, such as tear gas, can amount to “torture or other forms of ill-treatment.”
Article 6 § 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”
In this connection, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations noted the following (see General Comment no. 6, Article 6, 16th Session (1982), § 3): “The protection against arbitrary deprivation of life which is explicitly required by the third sentence of Article 6 § 1 is of paramount importance. The Committee considers that States Parties should take measures not only to prevent and punish deprivation of life by criminal acts, but also to prevent arbitrary killing by their own security forces. The deprivation of life by the authorities of the State is a matter of the utmost gravity. Therefore, the law must strictly control and limit the circumstances in which a person may be deprived of his life by such authorities.”
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (“United Nations Force and Firearms Principles”) were adopted on 7 September 1990 by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. Paragraph 9 of the Principles provides:
“Law-enforcement officials shall not use firearms against persons except in self-defence or defence of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent his or her escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”
Paragraph 5 of the Principles provides, inter alia, that law-enforcement officials shall “act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved”. Under the terms of paragraph 7, “governments shall ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law-enforcement officials is punished as a criminal offence under their law”. Paragraph 11 (b) states that national rules and regulations on the use of firearms should “ensure that firearms are used only in appropriate circumstances and in a manner likely to decrease the risk of unnecessary harm”.
This fatal police shooting is part of the ongoing pattern of extra-judicial killing and maiming of persons of African descent in the UK. The police shot Chris Kaba whilst he was still in his car and was unarmed. In the UK, the Black community has a history of resisting racist, violent and deadly policing. This led to the recent community protests/ uprisings of other police killings like that of Mark Duggan in 2011, Mohamud Mohammed Hassan 2021 and Rashan Charles in 2017.
The family made a number of demands, two demands of these demands have been met and they are that the matter is dealt with as a murder investigation and that the officer involved in the killing is suspended from work. There has however been recent pushback from fellow Armed Police officers who have threatened to walk out of the job due to their colleague, who shot and killed Chris merely being suspended from his job. We are concerned with the ability of the UK police to fairly and independently investigate the killing of Chris Kaba, if officers are currently taking part in actions to support the evading of accountability and general disregard to International Human Rights obligations in which they must comply with.
I am inviting CERD Committee and UN Committee against Torture and inhumane treatment to call out this unjust human right violation and killing and to join the family and community in demanding truth, accountability and justice from the UK Government.
The family’s current demands are that the Officers involved in the shooting are charged with murder as all too often State Agents who kill in the UK are met with impunity. The Body Worn footage that captures the incident is released to the family.
I have attached more information about the police killing of Chris Kabe here : https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-62691598