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AU, UN Officials Voice Outrage at Death of Man in Police Custody in Minnesota

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a session at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Feb. 27, 2020.

World leaders are condemning the death in police custody of an African American man, George Floyd, in the Midwestern U.S. city of Minneapolis.

Graphic video of Floyd's arrest Monday shows a white police officer kneeling on his neck, with Floyd pleading to be allowed to breathe. Floyd’s death sparked protests throughout the United States, and on Friday the police officer was taken into custody and charged with third-degree murder.

The African Union Commission on Friday issued a strongly worded, rare public statement on the domestic events in the United States.

In the statement, the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, "strongly condemns" police conduct in the Floyd case and extended his "deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.”

'Continuing discriminatory practices'

Citing a 1964 Organization of African Unity resolution on racial discrimination in the United States, the commission said it “reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against black citizens of the United States of America.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet also condemned the circumstances surrounding Floyd’s death, which she said was the latest “in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by U.S. police officers and members of the public.”

“I am dismayed to have to add George Floyd’s name to that of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many other unarmed African Americans who have died over the years at the hands of the police — as well as people such as Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin who were killed by armed members of the public,” she said.

The U.N. human rights chief called on U.S. authorities to take serious action to stop such killings, and to ensure justice.

Prevention a must

“Procedures must change, prevention systems must be put in place, and above all police officers who resort to excessive use of force should be charged and convicted for the crimes committed,” said Bachelet.

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said he had seen the video of Floyd lying on the ground with a policeman’s knee on his neck.

"Because of this discrimination, racism on the basis of race, such things are done," he said during a webcast on compassion Friday. "We see in the news channels, the media, about discrimination on the basis of color or religion these days, and then there is killing due to that, and then there are some who even take it as a pride to be able to kill somebody."

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