Fla. Civil Rights Group Welcomes U.N. Official’s Call for Reparations in Trayvon Martin Case

April 10, 2012 - 5:01 AM

Navanethem Pillay

U.N. human rights commissioner Navanethem Pillay addresses the Human Rights Council in Geneva on September 27, 2010. (UN Photo by Jean-Marc Ferre)

(CNSNews.com) – A Florida advocacy group spearheading protests over the racially-charged Trayvon Martin shooting has welcomed the intervention of the United Nations’ human rights chief, who has called for the shooter to be put on trial and “reparations for the victims concerned.”

“We believe that the United Nations involvement can help prevent another Trayvon Martin situation in other counties across the world,” J. Willie David, president of the Florida Civil Rights Association, said in a statement provided to CNSNews.com on Monday.

“The shooting death of Trayvon Martin and Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law have created a worldwide movement that calls into question how justice is delivered to victims of color,” he said.

“The Florida Civil Rights Association is calling on the police and prosecutors to end their questionable practices of operating in secrecy when it comes to African Americans.”

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay commented on the Martin shooting during a visit to Barbados on Thursday.

The unarmed 17-year-old was shot dead in Sanford, Florida, on February 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who says he acted in self-defense after being attacked by the black teenager.  Florida’s “stand-your-ground” law provides immunity from prosecution for “justifiable use of force” in cases where a person reasonably believes there to be a threat of imminent death or serious bodily harm.

The incident triggered a massive outcry, and prompted investigations by the Sanford Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement – at the behest of Gov. Rick Scott – as well as the Department of Justice. A special prosecutor appointed by Scott on March 22, Angela Corey, said on Monday her investigation was continuing, although she ruled out using a grand jury.

Although local, state and federal inquiries have been underway for weeks, Pillay called for “an immediate investigation” into the shooting.

“Justice must be done for the victim,” she told a media briefing in Hastings, on the southern end of the Caribbean island. “It’s not just this individual case, it calls into question the delivery of justice in all situations like this.”

“In this particular case it was the family itself, their distress that became known to the general public – once again people pressure that has drawn attention to this case. It shouldn’t be so,” Pillay continued. “The law should operate equally in respect of all violations. So, like every other situation such as this, we will be urging an investigation, and prosecution and trial – and of course reparation for the victims concerned.”

Pillay, a South African jurist, was appointed U.N. rights chief in 2008 and is based in Geneva, at the home of the U.N. Human Rights Council.  She is a former judge at the International Criminal Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.