UN Backs Secret Obama Takeover of Police-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
The United Nations has backed President Obama’s secret plan to nationalize local police departments.
The UN hasn’t backed Obama’s secret plan to takeover local police departments — and we couldn’t find evidence to prove that a “secret plan” like that exists.
These rumors stem from a statement released by Maina Kiai, a human rights attorney from Kenya who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Commission to research and report on “the rights of freed of peaceful assembly and of association” in the United States in July 2016. One paragraph of Kiai’s lengthy statement drew speculation about the UN backing Obama’s police takeover:
“The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice has provided oversight and recommendations for improvement of police services in a number of cities with consent decrees. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce discrimination in law enforcement and it needs to be beefed up and increased to cover as many of the 18,000-plus local law enforcement jurisdictions.”
A website called Lifezette started rumors that Kiai’s statement meant the UN had backed a nationalized police force in the United States. In an article published August 4th under the headline, “UN Backs Secret Obama Takeover of Police,” the website reports:
(That quote was from) United Nations Rapporteur Maina Kai on July 27, a representative of the U.N. Human Rights Council, who on the tail-end of touring the U.S., endorsed a little-known and yet highly controversial practice by the Justice Department to effect a federal takeover of local police and corrections departments.
The story’s first mistake is that it mischaracterizes exactly what a “special rapporteur” is and falsely implied in the headline that Kiai’s statement amounted to a UN endorsement.
In reality, a special rapporteur is an independent expert that the UN Human Rights Council has appointed to examine and report back on events unfolding in a country, or on a particular human rights theme. Then, the UN Human Rights Commission reviews and critiques that report and decides whether or not to act on it, according to special procedures of the Human Rights Council:
The Commission on Human Rights exercises oversight over the work of the experts while keeping in mind that the experts are irremovable, independent and are immune from legal process. It examines their reports and passes resolutions either welcoming or criticizing the work of the expert, or simply takes note of their action ….
Simply put, a special rapporteur does not speak for the UN; Kiai’s statement doesn’t amount to the UN “backing” anything.
rapporteurLifezette explains Obama’s “secret plans” to take control of local police departments by issuing a flurry of the “consent decrees” (which Kiai endorsed in his statement):
The consent decrees are already being implemented in Newark, New Jersey; Miami, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Ferguson, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; and other municipalities… In short, the much-feared nationalization of local police departments is already being initiated by the Obama administration’s Justice Department. And somehow nobody noticed.
But those claims about where consent decrees have been issued are misleading, and in some instances they’re false.
The Los Angeles consent decree was issued under Bill Clinton in the 1990s — not Obama. The Miami consent decree was issued due to violations of the Clean Water Act — it had nothing do with police. Chicago, meanwhile, asked for a DOJ investigation of police tactics in December 2015, and the review is ongoing (no consent decree has been issued).
The story did, however, correctly report the Ferguson and Newark consent decrees reached under Obama.
But a Washington Post review of the number of DOJ investigations launched and the number of consent decrees reached over the last two decades don’t support the idea that Obama is secretly trying to use them to create a nationalized police force:
In the past two decades, the Justice Department has launched 67 civil rights investigations of police departments. Nine remain unresolved.
Of the completed investigations, 24 were closed without reform agreements, meaning investigators did not have sufficient evidence to prove civil rights abuses or the agencies informally resolved the problems, officials said.
In eight investigations, Justice documented patterns of civil rights abuses and won promises from the departments to reform. Those cases were settled out of court with no independent or federal oversight.
Twenty-six investigations — a little more than half of them since President Obama took office — have led to the most rigorous outcome: binding agreements tracked by monitors. More than half were consent decrees, meaning they were approved and managed in federal court.
In the end, there doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence to prove that Obama is using consent decrees to secretly takeover the country’s police forces. And the UN hasn’t endorsed that — even though a special rapporteur for the UN Human Rights Commission did.