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Caroline Savage


AP Seminar

2 February 2016

Police Brutality

All around the world police brutality is shown in many different ways. As we look

through different perspectives we see how it affects different people in multiple cultures.

According to a series of interviews by the United Nations, police forces in North Korea feel as if

the injustice given toward the civilians is what should be done. Regardless the problem of

excessive police force will continue to grow in the coming years if the United Nations and other

global organizations do not step in. This is relevant to our culture and everyday lives of

Americans for multiple reasons. Especially in the coming months of presidential primary

elections. In recent years and recent months police brutality has risen into the public eye. With

movements such as Black Lives Matter and cases such as Trayvon Martin, citizens become

angry and very passionate about these matters. Using social media as a platform for getting

first-hand videos as well as public surveys has become a very real problem for people in the

United States as well as all over the world. What people sometimes become blind to is that

Police brutality is displayed very differently all over the world with one thing in common, the

excessive force of the police is harming and abusing human rights. With this being an intriguing

topic we pose the question, to what extent is police brutality present worldwide? How does it

For starters, we see what happens in the country of North Korea. On December 2, 2012

the CBS Network 60 Minutes released a story of a man who spent 23 years in a police

imprisonment camp known as Camp 14 in North Korea. The man Shin Dong-Hyuk gives a first

hand interview about the hardships faced in the camp. Satellite images from CBS show that

15,000 people are living in Camp 14 where they work in factories, fields, and mines. Shin

Dong-Hyuk goes on to explain that the living conditions are so that you do not even know there

is a life outside of Camp 14.

The intensity of their treatment only worsened and lead to 23 years of hunger, no

experience of love from parents or anyone. If you tried to escape you were shot or if you did

anything wrong you were shot. Mandatory viewing of executions are held for people who do not

obey the rules. According to this report from the perspective of the government and police, they

deny any of these camps exist even when the source of Shin Dong -Hyuk was provided.They

will not allow access to the Camp 14 by reporters or anyone. Anderson Cooper goes on to

explain that the last time actions similar to that found in Shin Dong-Hyuk's’ testimony was

during World War two.

As well as holding modern day concentration camps in forest of North Korea, the police

force also violates human rights. Han, a North Korean woman refugee who escaped nearly ten

years ago was interviewed by CNN in 2012. She said when her and her family grew up in North

Korea they learned to treat their government like gods. They are taught that without the dictators

in North Korea, they would all be dead. They were told that all of the hardships they faced was

due to the United States and South Korea in the Korean War. Han herself was also taken into

custody being three months pregnant and as CNN states “​she was forced to kneel in front of
police, who kicked her, beat her with a wooden rod and smashed her skull. They lay her hands

flat on the cement floor and stomped on them.” As Hans story continues the North Korean police

hardship only got worse a they starved her newborn child by storming into her house and

confiscating all of her as well as her family's food. As you can see police brutality in North

Korea takes a very violent turn. Regardless this is only one way police brutality is shown

worldwide. In China we see it from a different angle.

Police tend to cross the line when it comes to the citizens rights in a country. In China,

one of their laws was named, The One-Child Policy. This law stated that every family was

allowed to have one child. According to the Boston Globe, forced abortions and forced

sterilizations have been used to enforce this rule. Life News states that in order to follow this one

child policy, a family is given a birth certificate stating who can give birth and when they can.

Their pregnancy is controlled by the police and government. If a pregnant woman is found

without a certificate, they put their family, neighbors, and the unborn child in the control and in

the danger of the family planning police. According to Washington News, China’s government

and police admitted to performing 196 million sterilizations. They also reported that a chinese

mother of two died due to a sterilization forced on her by the police. Her doctor tried to interfere

and explain that she was not healthy enough to have the procedure. However, the police wanted

to prevent illegal pregnancy.

Due to pressure from the United Nations China changed the law. According to an article

in the New York Times, they will allow couples where one spouse is an only child, to have a

second child. This extension of rules is better for those who are qualified and would like another

child. However, the unfair situation still remains for those who do not qualify. Apart from
restricting the population growth Chinese police officers also give unnecessary punishment and

torture. In China, according to the HRIC, or the Human Rights In China, Zhang Lin’s ten year

old daughter was kidnapped and illegally held hostage by officers in a twenty hour prison. Zhang

Anni, Zhang Lin’s daughter, was taken from her school by police. Zhang stated he was missing

3,900 yuan in cash as well as the police taking his keys, phone and computer. After this, they

made him enter a precinct with his daughter, however, not allowing him to see her until later.

This situation shows that officers unfairly treat the citizens of their own country.

As we look through different reports from various countries we draw parallels between

how the citizens see how they are being treated. However we have yet to see how the

government thinks of their own wrongdoings. What was previously mentioned was that North

Korean officials see themselves as gods and teach their citizens as much. ​ On the other hand the

rest of the world sees the situation in North Korea very differently. Recently the United Nations

have been fighting heavily against North Korea. According to a United Nations TV webcast in

March of 2013 they announced an “investigation of systematic, widespread and grave human

right violations.” After they made the announcement they were denied access to North Korea and

began to hold public hearings of over 80 victims of North Korean police brutality.

Ms. Jeong Jin-Hwa, a former newsreader for the Department of Propaganda and

Agitation of the workers party of North Korea, was one of the people interviewed. She goes

further to explain what the North Korean citizens think about the police brutality. If a news

reporter says something outside of what they are allowed to say under the law, they can

disappear overnight. They disappear as well as the family, even up to three generations of family

can just vanish overnight. They are taken by the government to prison camps. The government
tells the citizens, who then believe that the people deserve the treatment they are receiving. She

claims the citizens believe, “ They turned their backs on the regime. They deserve it.” Essentially

the government and police force tell the citizens what to believe regardless of the truthfulness of

it. Also from the point of the view of the United Nations, North Korea is violating the natural

rights of humans.

Another country that is often ignored is Russia. According to the Central Intelligence

Agency Russia is one of the largest countries in the world and one of the top countries with

internal conflict. A report released by the Economist Group “​police brutality has been present for

several years and was just recently publicized because people have lost patience and have anger

built up from the multiple attacks.” While Russian police brutality is often overlooked it is still a

present and very real problem within internal borders. According to The Moscow Times, there

were twenty one deaths that occurred when people were in police custody in Russia in one

month. Out of those deaths, two were considered police brutality. Even though a small amount

of those deaths were considered police brutality, the other deaths show how bad the detainees

were treated in police custody. Those unnoticed deaths also show how badly it is being

overlooked. However, these deaths included death from a fire, death from falling out of a police

vehicle, suicide, cardiac arrest, and alcohol intoxication. Those unnoticed deaths, that were not

considered to be at police fault, also contribute to show how badly these situations are being


A report conducted by the New York times showed two instances where police arrested

and killed civilians for not carrying identification. One being a twenty seven year old man and

the other a thirty year old man. Naturally this caused unrest and according to the Human Rights
Watch, in 2012 protesters marched near the Kremlin and were met by a line of police. The

peaceful protesters were met with forceful aggression by the line of police and beaten. Once

again this country varies a lot in comparison to those looked at so far. While police brutality in

Russia is not as extreme and influential it still is a very real problem in Russian society.

A more recent and prevalent issue in social media culture is police brutality in the United

States. In recent months and years stories such as the death of Trayvon Martin have lead to many

speculations on civilian treatment. Racial profiling has become a major point of discussion when

dealing with brutality in the United States. CNN released a news report in June of 2012

reporting on an incident in 1991. Following a high speed car accident in Los Angeles, Rodney

King, a young african american taxi driver was beaten by a police officer while being filmed by a

white man. This became a huge problem in the country and lead to what is now known as the

Los Angeles riots. Many charges were held against several officers that were involved in the

incident. The riots led to fifty three deaths, 2,383 injuries and more than 7,000 fires. As a result

two of the four officers were convicted and sentenced to thirty four month in prison.

From a historical perspective racial profiling when dealing with police brutality dates

back to the 1960’s during the civil rights movement. Historically, it was accepted to spray

African Americans off the street with a fire hose. In 2014, the UN committee against torture

condemned police brutality and excessive use of force by law enforcement in the US, and

highlighted the statement “frequent and recurrent police shootings or fatal pursuits of unarmed

black individuals.” Similar to that of North Korea, the United Nations has recognized and

confirmed the police brutality in the United States. The United Nations accusations were

recognized and immediately followed by statistics released late that year. In August of 2014,
Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager in the United States, was walking with his friend in the

middle of the street. According to an article written by the SCR, or The Society for Case

Research, the white officer cursed at them telling them to get out of the street. This article also

stated that Brown attempted to take the officer’s weapon. Therefore, Brown was shot and killed.

Brown’s death has caused riots and protests. His death shows that police automatically kill

citizens even if protecting themselves in the act. According to Mint Press News, up until

September of 2015, over seven hundred citizens were killed by police officers in the United

States. Out of those, almost four hundred of them were white and about sixty of those were

unarmed. Also out of those killed in total, about seven hundred of them were men. These

statistics were stretched over a time period of nine months. By November of 2015, according to

the Guardian News, the number of deaths due to police officers had reached one thousand. That

is one thousand lives that could have been saved with court prosecutions or even imprisonment if


Once again we can draw parallels from other countries as we look at the United States.

We can see how both North Korea and the United States have been questioned by the United

Nations and it shows that both countries are treating civilians with injustice. In other countries

we see similar comparisons. In areas in South America such as Brazil we see indistinguishable

characteristics in their police. According to Think Process, the population of Brazil is half the

size of that in the United States. Regardless of this statistic, the equivalent amount of people die

in the hands of the police as the United States. Think Process states that the policy followed by

police and armed officials is “shoot first, ask questions later.” In May of 2015 the New York

times ran a report of a police brutality report on Claudia da Silva Ferreira who was shot, and
dragged to death behind a Brazilian police car. There were six officers involved in her attack and

they were not charged or faced trial even after a year.

While this may seem like an extreme example this seems to be happening constantly in

Brazilian society. Brazil is a developing country. Therefore it has multiple slums throughout its

territory. According to the same report from the New York Times, the majority of police

brutality and shooting occur within the slums. Recently police arrived in a slum in Rio De

Janeiro and shot and killed a boy named Eduardo. In despair, this 10 year old boy's mother yelled

at the police. As a reaction this police officer told the women he would be happy to kill her too.

We see this same pattern show up all across the country in policed neighborhoods, and in slums


The effects of police brutality not only harm the direct recipients but also the bystanders.

Children in other countries as well as the United States can stand and watch their parents be shot

by those told to protect their rights. The American Conservative released a report stating that

when children see parents or others get shot the lose social skills and it becomes hard to

determine between right and wrong as they grow older. This also negatively impacts the adults in

the situation. From the perspective of the parents they tend to feel as though they let the child

down and lose a want to be involved socially within their culture.

In conclusion the position of police worldwide has been defined as “ a civil force

responsible for the prevention of crime and maintenance of public order.” However, from

multiple perspectives and countries, we are now seeing that in some areas that is not the case.

From rape and torture in North Korea, to unprecedented shootings in the slums of Brazil we see

police brutality take many different shapes and sizes across the globe. What some people see as
having police brutality, others may not, such as the one-child policy in China. From the United

Nations perspective they continue to hold public hearings for those countries who violate basic

human rights. As of now this seems to be the only logical solution for this social problem.

However, in America, we see other options that might seem more plausible for future

generations. One way the United States can hope to solve this issue is by continuing and

reestablishing police training as well as bettering community relations.

On January 13 of 2015 an article was released by the Washington Post giving valid

solutions to police brutality in America. While this does not apply to every country looked at, it

can give a guideline to what should be done in other areas. The article states that police need to

be trained in verbal and physical skills so as not to take accusations personally as well as to

handle the situation without causing harm to the individual. Having police involved in

community matter and events can create a bond with policeman that has not been present. While

these may only pose a few solutions to the ending of police brutality by using the tools of new

training and the United Nation interviews and public hearings, there may be a silver lining for

future generations.

As you can see, the extent of police brutality ranges throughout the world and can change

in an instant. It affects the lives of citizens and changes the perspective in which we see other

countries. As we speculate the coming age of the world, the status of police brutality is subject to

change as well as the way people can see it. As of now, however, there will be a continuous issue

in our world today.

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