Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement (EMLER)

Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement (EMLER)

On 16 December 2021, the President of the Human Rights Council appointed Justice Yvonne Mokgoro; Dr. Tracie Keesee and Professor Juan Méndez to serve as experts on the Expert Mechanism.

EMLER is a United Nations mechanism created in 2021 by the Human Rights Council to specifically focus on the “promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Africans and of people of African descent against excessive use of force and other human rights violations by law enforcement officers through transformative change for racial justice and equality.” (see UN Resolution 47/21.

EMLER was created after the killing of George Floyd in the United States. UNARC advocates from across the globe pushed for a specific mechanism to deal with the killing of Black people at the hands of law enforcement as well as the root causes of such oppression. The “George Floyd” resolutioncreated EMLER and the same coalition of organizations that organized for its creation (UNARC), now coordinates civil society participation in the mechanism globally.

EMLER exists, “in order to further transformative change for racial justice and equality in the context of law enforcement globally, especially where relating to the legacies of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans, to investigate Governments’ responses to peaceful anti-racism protests and all violations of international human rights law and to contribute to accountability and redress for victims.” (Resolution 47/21) 

EMLER is a hybrid mechanism which is a cross between a UN Special Procedure and UN Commission-of-Inquiry and its mandate lasts for three years. 

Akua Kuenyehia

Ghana

Former judge who served as first vice-president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from 2003-2015 and as member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2003. Ms. Kuenyehia is a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana and has extensive experience as a solicitor, advocate, and law teacher. She was the first female law lecturer and first female Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, where she taught criminal law, gender and the law, international human rights law and public international law. Her research and advocacy have focused on the rights of women and gender equality in Africa and globally. She has been visiting professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Imo State University in Nigeria, and at Temple Law School, Northwestern University and Pennsylvania State University in the United States of America. She holds law degrees from the University of Ghana and Oxford University.

Former judge who served as first vice-president of the International Criminal Court (ICC) from 2003-2015 and as member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2003. Ms. Kuenyehia is a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Ghana and has extensive experience as a solicitor, advocate, and law teacher. She was the first female law lecturer and first female Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana, where she taught criminal law, gender and the law, international human rights law and public international law. Her research and advocacy have focused on the rights of women and gender equality in Africa and globally. She has been visiting professor at Leiden University in the Netherlands, Imo State University in Nigeria, and at Temple Law School, Northwestern University and Pennsylvania State University in the United States of America. She holds law degrees from the University of Ghana and Oxford University.

Tracie Keesee - UNARC member

Dr. Tracie L. Keesee

United States of America

Served for 25 years in the Denver Police Department (retired Jan 2015). She subsequently served as New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Deputy Commissioner of Training (Feb 2016-Jan 2018) and as NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Equity and Inclusion (Jan 2018-Mar 2019). She served as Project Director of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice – a Department of Justice project designed to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. (Jan 2015-Feb 2016). She was also Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado Denver, teaching courses on race, crime and justice. She is currently Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives of the Center For Policing Equity, which promotes police transparency and accountability. Additionally, she works closely with communities to ensure their voice and representation are centered in the co-production of public safety.

Served for 25 years in the Denver Police Department (retired Jan 2015). She subsequently served as New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) Deputy Commissioner of Training (Feb 2016-Jan 2018) and as NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Equity and Inclusion (Jan 2018-Mar 2019). She served as Project Director of the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice – a Department of Justice project designed to improve relationships and increase trust between minority communities and the criminal justice system. (Jan 2015-Feb 2016). She was also Adjunct Professor at the University of Colorado Denver, teaching courses on race, crime and justice. She is currently Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives of the Center For Policing Equity, which promotes police transparency and accountability. Additionally, she works closely with communities to ensure their voice and representation are centered in the co-production of public safety.

Juan E. Mendez

Argentina

Professor of human rights law in residence at the American University-Washington College of Law and member of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (2010-2016); former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007) and concurrently President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (2004-2009), as well as former Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2000-2003) and its President in 2002. Professor Méndez was elected commissioner to the International Commission of Jurists in January 2017 and has been a Special Advisor on Crime Prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2009-2011). He also worked with Human Rights Watch for 15 years and was the Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (1996-1999).

Professor of human rights law in residence at the American University-Washington College of Law and member of the Board of Trustees of the UN Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture. He was the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (2010-2016); former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide (2004-2007) and concurrently President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (2004-2009), as well as former Commissioner of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (2000-2003) and its President in 2002. Professor Méndez was elected commissioner to the International Commission of Jurists in January 2017 and has been a Special Advisor on Crime Prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (2009-2011). He also worked with Human Rights Watch for 15 years and was the Executive Director of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (1996-1999).

Former Members

Yvonne Mokgoro - UNARC member

Justice Yvonne Mokgoro

South Africa

Former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from its inception in 1994 until the end of her 15-year term in 2009. Justice Mokgoro is the current Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and after her term on the South Africa Constitutional Court, she served as Acting Justice at the Lesotho Appeals Court and the Namibia Supreme Court. In November 2020, she completed her 4-year non-renewable term as Chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council. 

Former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa from its inception in 1994 until the end of her 15-year term in 2009. Justice Mokgoro is the current Chairperson of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and after her term on the South Africa Constitutional Court, she served as Acting Justice at the Lesotho Appeals Court and the Namibia Supreme Court. In November 2020, she completed her 4-year non-renewable term as Chairperson of the United Nations Internal Justice Council. 

ABOUT
EMLER

  • It centers the experiences of impacted communities. 
  • Its work is focused on Africans and people of African Descent and policing.
  • It can alert the world to human rights violations and bring attention to specific situations on the ground.
  • It also looks at root causes including the legacies of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade. 
  • It can make statements, issue press releases, mobilize quickly, and conduct urgent actions. 
  • It can conduct country visits to investigate more closely, what is happening on-the-ground in a given country. 
  • It can send letters to governments
  • It prepares reports every year to present to the Human Rights Council and engages in a yearly Enhanced Interactive Dialog with OHCHR and impacted members of civil society on the same panel. 
  • It is an investigative body, so it can investigate specific cases, laws, or situations on the ground.

THEIR GOALS

Their work has a special focus on the legacies of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans and people of African Descent. 

They conduct country visits and inclusive outreach with States and directly affected individuals and other stakeholders, applying an intersectional lens to all activities carried out under the mandate

Examining Systemic Racism
  • Examine the root causes of systemic racism in law enforcement and the criminal justice system, the excessive use of force, racial profiling and other human rights violations by law enforcement officials against Africans and people of African descent.
  • Examine any nexus between supremacist movements and actors within law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
  • Examine the excessive use of force and other violations against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement officials, including with regard to patterns, policies, processes and specific incidents.
  • Monitor the implementation of recommendations made in the High Commissioner’s report.
Contribute to Accountability and Redress for Victims

 

  • Recommend concrete actions needed to ensure access to justice, accountability and redress for violations committed by law enforcement officers against Africans and people of African descent, including independent and well-resourced mechanisms to support victims of human rights violations by law enforcement officials, their families and communities.
Make Recommendations
  • On how domestic law regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers can be brought in line with international standards and ensure law enforcement officials receive appropriate human rights training to ensure that they comply with obligations under international law.
  • On  the collection and publication of data, disaggregated by victims’ race or ethnic origin on on deaths and serious injuries by law enforcement officials and related prosecutions and convictions, as well as any disciplinary actions, in order to to push for and assess responses to systemic racism in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
  •  On addressing systemic racism, in law enforcement and the criminal justice systems and on adopting alternative and complementary methods to policing.
Investigate Government Responses to Anti-racism Peaceful Protests

 

  • Prepare an annual report and present it to the HRC in the next three June sessions, in a debate that prioritizes the participation of directly affected individuals and communities, including victims and their families, and to transmit their reports to the General Assembly.
Coordinate Work
  • With all relevant actors in the UN system including the Working Group on People of African Descent and the Special Rapporteur on racism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Congress on Crime  Prevention and Criminal Justice, as well as regional human rights mechanisms and national human rights institutions. 
  • Prepare an annual report and present it to the HRC in the next three September sessions, in a debate that prioritizes the participation of directly affected individuals and communities, including victims and their families, and to transmit their reports to the General Assembly.

Visit EMLER’s official website

THEIR GOALS

Their work has a special focus on the legacies of colonialism and the Transatlantic slave trade in enslaved Africans and people of African Descent. 

They conduct country visits and inclusive outreach with States and directly affected individuals and other stakeholders, applying an intersectional lens to all activities carried out under the mandate.

Examining Systemic Racism
  • Examine the root causes of systemic racism in law enforcement and the criminal justice system, the excessive use of force, racial profiling and other human rights violations by law enforcement officials against Africans and people of African descent.
  • Examine any nexus between supremacist movements and actors within law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
  • Examine the excessive use of force and other violations against Africans and people of African descent by law enforcement officials, including with regard to patterns, policies, processes and specific incidents.
  • Monitor the implementation of recommendations made in the High Commissioner’s report.
Contribute to Accountability and Redress for Victims

 

  • Recommend concrete actions needed to ensure access to justice, accountability and redress for violations committed by law enforcement officers against Africans and people of African descent, including independent and well-resourced mechanisms to support victims of human rights violations by law enforcement officials, their families and communities.
Make Recommendations
  • On how domestic law regarding the use of force by law enforcement officers can be brought in line with international standards and ensure law enforcement officials receive appropriate human rights training to ensure that they comply with obligations under international law.
  • On  the collection and publication of data, disaggregated by victims’ race or ethnic origin on on deaths and serious injuries by law enforcement officials and related prosecutions and convictions, as well as any disciplinary actions, in order to to push for and assess responses to systemic racism in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
  •  On addressing systemic racism, in law enforcement and the criminal justice systems and on adopting alternative and complementary methods to policing.
Investigate Government Responses to Anti-racism Peaceful Protests

 

  • Prepare an annual report and present it to the HRC in the next three June sessions, in a debate that prioritizes the participation of directly affected individuals and communities, including victims and their families, and to transmit their reports to the General Assembly.
Coordinate Work
  • With all relevant actors in the UN system including the Working Group on People of African Descent and the Special Rapporteur on racism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the United Nations Congress on Crime  Prevention and Criminal Justice, as well as regional human rights mechanisms and national human rights institutions. 
  • Prepare an annual report and present it to the HRC in the next three September sessions, in a debate that prioritizes the participation of directly affected individuals and communities, including victims and their families, and to transmit their reports to the General Assembly.

Visit EMLER’s official website

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST EMLER'S INPUTS