WASHINGTON, August 25 (RIA Novosti) - Human Rights Watch called on the US Congress to improve data collection on the use of force by police, and issue stronger racial profiling guidance to federal law enforcement, Alba Morales, researcher in the US Program at Human Rights Watch told RIA Novosti Sunday.
"We hope that the spotlight that Ferguson has brought to issues of police abuse results in real reform on the federal, state and local levels," Morales said.
"On the federal level, Human Rights Watch calls for Congress to improve data collection on police use of force, pass the End Racial Profiling Act, and issue stronger racial profiling guidance to federal law enforcement," she added.
Ferguson has witnessed a series of violent demonstrations following the shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown by a white local police officer earlier this month.
"There is a long history of tensions between police and black communities. Ferguson is just one example of these tensions," Morales said.
The situation in Ferguson has once again brought up the issues of racial discrimination, human rights violations as well as the increased militarization of the law enforcement. Police have been criticized for bringing military tactics to civilian protests, toting assault rifles and using tear gas, rubber bullets and other heavy-handed measures.
"The fact that they brought in the National Guard is yet another indication that the situation spiraled out of control, in part due to the heavy-handed police response," Morales said.
"The police response to peaceful protesters in Ferguson raises serious human rights concerns regarding the right to peaceably assemble, among others," the researcher said, adding that under international human rights norms, police may use force only when strictly necessary and the force used must be proportionate.
"The police response in Ferguson has been disproportionate," Morales concluded.
On Saturday, two weeks after the shooting in Ferguson, hundreds of peaceful protesters took to the streets in Washington, DC to show support for Michael Brown in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.
The demonstrators demanded the arrest of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot dead the teenager on August 9, as well as the demilitarization of the police, and the institutionalization of civilian review boards of the police with the right to hire and fire.
More events and rallies are planned for the upcoming week, the organizers said.