TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -The US Department of Justice has moved to sharply limit federal authority aimed at reducing abuse and civil rights violations by police officers across the country.
The Justice Department said Friday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in one of his final acts before President Donald Trump ousted him, has approved an order restricting the federal government’s ability to enforce changes at state and local police agencies accused of abuse.
The department said it could investigate alleged legal violations but that "special caution" was required before resolving any disputes with states or local entities.
The fatal shooting of blacks by police has sparked massive protests across the US in recent years.
US police killed 1,166 people in 2015, more than three a day, according to a study by The Guardian newspaper.
Sessions has long opposed consent decrees between the Justice Department and police departments to institute reforms, which were heavily utilized in the administration of former President Barack Obama.
A consent decree is a type of settlement agreement in US criminal cases that resolves a dispute between two parties without admission of guilt.
In the memo dated Wednesday, Sessions said the new requirements would include limitations on how long a consent decree could last and prohibitions against their use "to achieve general policy goals," among other curbs.
Sessions had ordered a sweeping review of the decrees nationwide, alarming civil rights advocates who saw them as ways to address police brutality and other violations, especially toward African Americans and other minorities.
Advocates criticized Sessions' departing order, saying the new procedures will make it more difficult to ensure that law enforcement and other entities such as schools and companies uphold an individual's constitutional rights.
"This move is a slap in the face to the dedicated career staff of the department who work tirelessly to enforce our nation's civil rights laws," said Vanita Gupta, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an advocacy group.
Trump forced Sessions to resign last week for rescuing himself from an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian collusion with Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign.