Extrajudicial killing in USA

Published : 09 Jan 2023 08:16 PM

The United States of America (USA) is popularly known as the ‘Champion of Democracy and Human Rights’. But since the last two decades, in its journey towards a multicultural society, the USA is facing a lot of human rights issues domestically such as hate crimes, structural racism, and extrajudicial killings at the hands of law enforcement agencies. Several statistics show that gun-related violence including hate crimes and extrajudicial killings is taking place at an alarming rate and there exists systemic exploitation of human rights. Every day, US society is facing hate crimes, extrajudicial killings and police violence. Moreover, the government is also failing to introduce or initiate effective policies. Furthermore, in the case of extrajudicial killings, a culture of impunity is also at large. It seems the champion is failing at home lately.

This is not the first time that gunmen swooped in the United States. A young man from an expatriate Bangladeshi community in the US has been gunned down by police at the city of Cambridge in Massachusetts.

The Bangladesh Association of New England organised protests outside Cambridge City Hall on Thursday, condemning the “brutal killing” of 20-year-old Sayed Faisal, a student of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. It said that members of the association would meet with Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqi to look for an explanation. 

According to media reports, the victim is 20-year-old Arif Sayed Faisal, a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Even though he was born in the US, his parents hail from Chittagong's Fatikchhari upazila, said his uncle Selim Jahangir.

Citing police, CBS News reported that Faisal was carrying a large knife – an allegation boldly denied by Jahangir, who is a Massachusetts resident. According to media reports, they were given no videos showing Faisal carrying a sharp weapon.  

Jahangir claimed that Faisal was calm in nature. “We don't understand why police shot at him?” he questioned.  He also demanded fair probe of the incident and punishment of the police officer who opened fire.

Meanwhile, referring to the killing, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Friday said Bangladesh does not want any hate crime anywhere in the world. Referring to the killing of a Bangladeshi in the US, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen on Friday said Bangladesh does not want any hate crime anywhere in the world. “The Bangladeshi community there (US) are alleging it to be a hate crime,” Momen told reporters about the death of a Bangladeshi expatriate after being shot by the police at Cambridge in Massachusetts of the US on Thursday. “We want to stop racism, communal violence and establish peace in the world,” Momen said.

On Tuesday, May 24, 2022, blood was shed on the campus of the United States again. A young man named Salvador Ramos killed 19 children and two teachers one by one with a firearm he got as a gift on his 18th birthday. The gunman, Ramos, attacked Rob Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, a small town about an hour's drive from the Mexican border. Members of the Border Patrol rushed to the scene and shot the young man to death. In other words, another extrajudicial killing took place in the United States.

Such incidents took place many times. Just days before the Tuesday shooting incident, 10 people were killed in a gun attack on a super shop in Buffalo, New York, according to the BBC and AFP. A 2012-gun attack at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut killed 20 children and six others. There have been 26 such incidents in the United States last year. Gun-related attacks are the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in 2020, surpassing road accidents.

A gunman has been shot dead by police near a school in Toronto, Canada, shortly after gunfire erupted at an elementary school in Texas. These are the example of the extrajudicial killings in the United States and Canada, which are known as the countries of advanced human rights.

The U.S. Department of Human Rights has highlighted the issue of extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh. Highlighting a number of statistics, it has been said that the law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh are involved in these extrajudicial killings.

Let's take a look at extrajudicial killings by law enforcement in the United States. Turkish media outlet TRT World has provided vital information about the United States being at the top of extrajudicial killings by law enforcement. 

According to a report published on June 1, 2020, a total of 7,666 people were killed in police shootings in the United States in the seven years from 2013 to 2019. Of these, 1,106 were shot by police in 2013, 1,050 in 2014, 1,103 in 2015, 1,071 in 2016, 1,095 in 2017, 1,143 in 2018 and 1,098 in 2019. Of these, the year 2018 saw the highest number of deaths by police shooting - 1,143. The average number of people killed every year between 2013 and 2019 is around 1,100. 

A report published by the Washington Post on February 12, 2019, states that the number of people killed in police shootings in the United States has been close to one thousand for four consecutive years. 

According to the report, 996 people were killed in police firing in 2018 while the number was 987 in 2017, 963 in 2016, and 995 in 2015. The Associated Press-AP, USA Today and a joint survey of researchers from North-Eastern University found that the United States had the highest number of mass killings in any year in 2019.

In the backdrops of recent events, it is right to say that countries like the United States or Canada should now look at themselves in the mirror. It is high time to change the spectacles they wear for analyzing the human rights situation in Bangladesh. Apart from international laws and norms, extrajudicial killing is also an act of " violations of basic human rights," and it overrides due legal process and "right to justice."

It seems in the national sphere, the U.S. itself has questionable actions that go against human rights. Therefore, the U.S. is currently not in a position to "lecture" others about human rights. To be the "actual" champion of human rights, the U.S. must give up its violations, duality, and "immoral" aspects of its policy that raise questions against it.

Sufian Siddique, independent researcher and freelance columnist