Training Law Enforcement for Prevention of Ill-Treatment and Torture

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Accountability is a relative concept and fully dependant on each country's situation, so it is largely part of a wider vision of the community itself , that includes most importantly the form of government and how it came to office, how its policies are responsive to individuals pulses, and where is places human rights in its priorities. The story of law enforcing in Bosnia after war ended 1996 is informative, where law enforcement was part of the suffering of the Bosnians, I was in Bosnia 2001-2001 with UN civilian police entity- International Police Task Force(IPTF), UNMIBH, and I was shocked at the volume corruption and absence of "accountability". So accountability definitely is compromised at times chaos or disturbances, and unfortunately that situation is not rare today.In a nut shell I would say that organizational accountability is something that cannot be taught to officers, it is a policy that flow down from upper decision-making level, and police is simply accountable when the wider official entity so dictates.From the other hand, individual accountability in individual officer scale is important and training can touch on this personal attitude, where positive out put can be eventually achieved. 

Ibrahim Elghazawi,PhD Humphrey Fellow Human Rights Center School of law University of Minnesota;

The Importance of Working Conditions

This exchange on the impact of working conditions of police officers on their behaviour is an incredibly interesting one. Please let me give you an example:

I have been visiting Georgia in the South Caucasus three or four times a year over the past five or so years and during this time I have witnessed significant improvements regarding the treatment of detainees by the police. If one refers to the report of the 2007 visit of the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture one finds a very encouraging situation. Paragraph 10 of the said report stated:  "In general, the CPT’s delegation gained the impression that the situation as regards the treatment of persons detained by the police in Georgia had considerably improved since the Committee’s second periodic visit (in 2003). The great majority of the persons interviewed during the 2007 visit, who were or had recently been in police custody, indicated that they had been treated in a correct manner. The delegation received only a few isolated allegations of physical ill-treatment...". How did this significant change for the better come about?

From my discussions with a range of local actors, including police officers, various factors were given for this welcome sea-change, including enhanced human rights education. However, a message I heard time and time again was quite simply the police were 'professionalized': large swathes of the old guard were fired, pay was increased several fold in one fell swoop (which attracted more highly educated persons into the service), official tolerance of corruption diminished significantly, and, crucially, police were given the means to do the job such as proper professional training, decent vehicles, equipment and uniforms etc. Improved human rights education no doubt also played a role, but many other factors came into play.   

If you walk through central Tbilisi today the police look a much more professional outfit than they did back in 2004 when I first started visiting the country. According to the CPT's latest report, it would seem that they are acting much more professionally too, which is good news for everyone. So yes, decent working conditions and professional training are very important.

Official mechanisms of accountability

Training should address the 'often raised dilemma'  of 'security versus human rights' by pointing out that there is no such dilemma as far as police officials are concerned.

Unfortunately even though human rights are protected by law, and any limitations which can be placed on rights and freedoms are set in law, police officials, who are described as law enforcement officials, break the law designed to protect human rights when enforcing other law. This situation exists because a readiness to violate human rights law persists as part of a powerful police sub-culture that regards human rights, which are inalienable and inherent in every human being, as incompatible with the process of policing. Furthermore some human rights violations, for example violations of the right to life and of the absolute prohibition of torture, are very serious crimes and, in committing such acts in order to ‘fight crime’, police are not reducing criminality, they are adding to it. In many instances, the crime of torture will be more serious than the crime being investigated. Those human rights violations that do not amount to criminal acts are enshrined in international law and the laws of states, and encoded as principles of good police practice. It cannot be said that policing that adds to criminality or that violates the professional values of policing is effective. Clearly, breaking the law in order to enforce the law and committing crime in order to fight crime are absurdities.  There is a debate about the nature and extent of the tension that exists between order and liberty, but very little of that debate can be carried through to the debate about policing and human rights, for almost all of the tension has been removed by law. Under law human rights and freedoms are clear, the limitations on those rights and freedoms are clear, and police powers, that mirror those limitations, are clear. Police, whose legitimacy is based on law, must comply with that law absolutely. The areas of policing where that tension has not been removed by law are, largely, those areas where police officials are required, or able, to exercise discretion in the course of their duties, and this issue is connected with the great autonomy of action enjoyed by many police officials. Whilst the extent and nature of discretion exercised by police officials varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, all police officials at different levels in police hierarchies exercise discretion to some extent. This is because it is neither possible nor desirable for all laws to be consistently and rigorously enforced. Questions of resources and deployment of those resources arise, and choices have to be made about which laws are to be enforced and to what extent. Individual police officials, at the lowest levels of the police hierarchy, have it in their power to ignore breaches of law and to decide, correctly or incorrectly, not to enforce the law in respect of specific instances of law-breaking. The exercise of discretion by police officials is connected with their varying degrees of autonomy, and both are an indication of the extent to which much police work is unsupervised and unsupervisable. A great deal of supervision and control within police agencies is supervision and control after the event. Information is fed into the system at ground level, and subordinates are able to control the nature and quality of that information. Supervisors receive edited and partial accounts of incidents dealt with by their subordinates, and of their subordinates' responses to those incidents.  

Where no legal provisions are in place to regulate or define what police action should be in particular circumstances, and where no other rules or guide-lines have been developed, the great legal and humanitarian principles of respect for the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family remain to prompt and inform police action. Indeed these principles, and the specific provisions of human rights law that derive from them, provide a sound basis for codes of behaviour and other texts designed to secure ethical standards in the profession and craft of policing.

At a theoretical level there is no tension between human rights and policing. The fact that such a tension exists in practice is inimical to effective policing and human rights, and it is subversive of the rule of law. A short term ‘victory’ in dealing with a particular manifestation of criminality may be applauded by a public eager to see wrong-doing punished and to live in a secure and peaceful society. However, when such a ‘victory’ is found to have been secured through unlawful and unethical means the applause of the public becomes a little uneasy and less enthusiastic. When unlawful and unethical police practices lead to miscarriages of justice and the punishment of innocent people, as they inevitably do, the applause ceases, public confidence and trust in the police is damaged, people are less inclined to co-operate with and assist police, and courts are reluctant to accept the testimony of police as witnesses. The ‘victory’ has become a defeat.   

(Note the above response is a quote from the book I produced with Tom Williamson and Stuart Cullen - 'Human Rights and Policing')


Accountability - official mechanisms

Thank  you - totally agree. "security issues and Human Rights" should not be seen as incompatible. Safeguards (enshrined in national laws) should be known, understood and applied by LE,  supervisors and decision makers irrespective  of  the situation  - at the same time information on the various safeguards available to civilians should be clearly highlighted. Most if not all the countries I worked in Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Bangldesh, Philippines etc )awareness and knowledge of safefuards amongst LE and civilian population is very scant. There are large information gaps between rural and urban areas where TCIDT take place. Applying and ensuring safeguards consistently could contribute to improved accountability.  

Accountability official mechanisms

Thanks, yes 'safeguards' is a good term. Securing these means, utimately, securing proper, effective accountability when they are breached. This is very difficult and probably not achieved satisfactorily anywhere yet.

In education/training terms it means making no concessions in the classroom to the effect that it is permissible on some occasions to breach human rights. Teachers and trainers should be very clear that they have a responsibility to insist on complete compliance with human rights standards.

Re: Accountability

Some injured activists use the courts to pursue their legal rights under civil law to ensure that the actions of police officers are held accountable. This can be successful, but can also be quite long because of the variety of public resources that the police have at their disposal in court. 


Dr. Clinton Fernandes, (Australia), Senior Lecturer, Strategic Studies, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales

Resource: Human Rights and Policing book

Thank you Ralph for sharing this overview of accountability and the inter-relationship of human rights with police practice.

If people are interested, they can see more information about the book, Human Rights and Policing written by Ralph Crawshaw, Tom Williamson and Stuart Cullen.

Ralph, if you have a better link, please share it with us.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Resource: Human Rights and Policing Book

Thanks Nancy - I haven't a better link. The one you provide seems to provide access to the entire book which is good given the price the publishers have set for it.

Holding the Police to Account

One of the ways in which the APT has been striving for greater police accountability has been through promotion of the concept of independent monitoring of places of detention. Although the organization is currently very much engaged in promoting the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), which establishes national and international monitoring bodies, it is sometimes forgotten that back in the 1990s we were doing the same vis-a-vis the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT). Only a few weeks ago the CPT celebrated to much fanfare its 20th birthday in Strasbourg and over the years it must be said that the profile of the CPT has risen significantly.

However, a decade or so ago this was not the case, particularly at the level of the individual detention facility. If you read some of the earlier CPT reports from the 1990s you often come across comments that police officers or prison officials did not appear to be familiar with the mandate of the Committee, which frustrated its work. In order to address this deficit, in cooperaton with the Council of Europe's Police and Human Rights Program, the APT produced the publication, A Visit by the CPT - What's it all about? ( The authors had police officers very much in mind when the booklet was devised, as is illustrated by its cartoons! The booklet has subsequently had a reasonably long shelf-life as an awareness-raising tool for police officers, having been translated into numerous European languages and distributed among police forces in Council of Europe member states. Of course, independent detention monitoring is only one method of trying to ensure greater police accountability.

Police should respect, but also protect human rights

Thanks Ralph, for a very informative contribution. Just wanted to add that 'policing and human rights' is not just about what police should not do when carrying out their job, but should include the fact that human rights task the police to do certain things. It is not just about respecting human rights themselves, but also about oprotecting human rights of the people they are serving. This active, positive obligation, is often overlooked which is a pity as it is exactly this field where police and human rights advocates may share a common agenda.

Police protecting human rights means that police help to prevent crime and maintain order, in police terms; and provide security & liberty for all, in human rights terms.

Accountability - the role of professional associations

One area that is most often overlooked relative to accountability and professional standards within the police service is the role of professional police associations. Many professions including the legal, medical, teaching, accounting, etc. have professional associations that develop professional and ethical standards for practitioners to abide by. Such standards include training standards that covers not only content but also delivery.

Because members of professional associations are either active, retired or former practitioners, thay are well placed to provide practical rather than theoretical instructions.

Police Associations could play a very important role in promoting accountability by:

1. developing standards to cover a wide range of policng issues both administrative and operational to include recruitment and training, promotion and assignment, incentives and benefits, humna rights standards, and discipline, etc.

2. Once the standards have been developed, the association can then monitor implementation, and at the same time provide tachnical assiatnce to police organizations in need.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police, headquartered in Virginia USA, is a good example of how police associations can enhance police professionalism through the development of training materials, exchange programs, professional conferences and meetings and providing consultancy services to police departments.

The International Police  Assocation in the UK is committed to the principles set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and attempts to promote respect for human rights through its programs.

There are many local and national police associations mainly in the devloped countries but most of these attempt to address issues dealing with the rights of officers.

Human rights organizations should encourage and support the development of local professional police associations and expose members to human rights training so that those trained can better relate to the officers in training.   




Trade in torture equipment

At a multinational level, it's important to ban the trade in torture equipment. Participants may wish to acquaint themselves with the UN Special Rapporteur on torture's study on "the situation of trade in and production of equipment which is specifically designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, its origin, destination and forms"

Statement of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Manfred Nowak to the 61st Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights

Study on the situation of trade in and production of equipment which is specifically designed to inflict torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, its origin, destination and forms, submitted by Theo van Boven, Special Rapporteur on torture, pursuant to resolution 2002/38 of the Commission on Human Rights 

Universal jurisdiction and Torture

Persons who commit torture in one jurisdiction can in fact be prosecuted in other countries, even when that country has no connection to the victim, the perpetrator or the crime. The test is whether that country has ratified the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture. I provided the following legal opinion recently regarding Australian jurisdiction. It would be quite profitable to work out what the comparable laws are in other countries, so that when a person suspected of torture enters that country (as a tourist, or for a conference), he or she can be prosecuted:


Australian jurisdiction to prosecute torture: 

Breaches of the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture are crimes under federal law over which Australian courts have jurisdiction. Section 6 (1) of the Crimes (Torture) Act 1988 provides that: 

A person who: 

(i) is a public official or is acting in an official capacity; or 

(ii) is acting at the instigation, or with the consent or acquiescence, of a public official or person acting in an official capacity; 

does outside Australia (my emphasis) an act that is an act of torture; and 

(b) that act, if done by the person at that time in a part of Australia, would constitute an offence against the law then in force in that part of Australia; 

is guilty of an offence against the Act. 

Section 3 of the Act defines “torture” as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person: 

(a) for such purposes as: 

(i) obtaining from the person or from a third person information or 
a confession; 

(ii) punishing the person for an act which that person or a third 
person has committed or is suspected of having committed; or 

(iii) intimidating or coercing the person or a third person; or 

(b) for any reason based on discrimination of any kind; but does not 
include any such act arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, 
lawful sanctions 

Thus there are two material elements and two mental elements. The material elements are that severe pain or suffering, mental or physical, must be inflicted on a person, and that it must be done by a public official or a person acting in an official capacity. Note that this latter limitation is not part of the requirement for war crimes. As for the ‘severity threshold’, it refers to the pain or suffering of the victim, not the conduct itself. It is not useful to develop a catalogue of conduct that amounts to torture. The mental elements are that the pain or suffering must be intentionally inflicted, and for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession, or punishing or intimidating the victim or a third person, or for another reason based on discrimination. Acts that otherwise meet the definition of torture but are committed purely for sadistic reasons do not appear to be covered. 

Not every Australian State and Territory has a specific offence of torture. E.g. Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have no specific offence of torture. In these jurisdictions, acts constituting torture are criminalized under the provisions of other criminal offences such as assault. 

Section 4 of the Act reflects the scheme of universal jurisdiction, stating that it has “extra-territorial operation according to its tenor”. Charges may be brought against Australian citizens or other persons who are present in Australia, including the external territories (Section 7, my emphasis). Thus, there is no requirement that the alleged perpetrator be an Australian citizen; all that is required is that the person be present in Australia. Nor is there any requirement that Australia be a Party to the international armed conflict in question, or that Australian citizens be victims of the act of torture. 

Section 8 of the Act requires that a prosecution may be brought only with the written consent of the Attorney-General. However, a warrant for the arrest of a person may be issued and executed, and an arrest may be made even if consent has not been given.  


n Dr. Clinton Fernandes, (Australia), Senior Lecturer, Strategic Studies, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales

Police Performance and Public Perception: Impact Evaluation

Below is a summary of the action research project that Rajasthan Police (India) collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA. I think you will find it interesting and relevant:
In their effort to improve the professionalism, transparency and responsiveness, the Rajasthan Police undertook a comprehensive reform initiative targeted at various aspects of policing in the state. The three-year collaborative project between Rajasthan Police and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA was a major initiative. Primarily focused at police station level reforms this project aimed to develop and evaluate a set of police reforms with following objectives:
<li>Enhance police performance</li>
<li>Improve public opinion</li>
<li>Gather objective information about crime rates and police performance.</li>
<strong>Interventions </strong>
The project started in Sept 2005 with a preliminary survey to identify the problem areas. In depth interviews were conducted with police officers of all ranks, constabulary, members of public including slum dwellers, shop keepers, lawyers, judges, executive magistrates, media etc. The reports of various police commissions as well as available literature on police reforms were extensively consulted. The survey indicated that police is often seen as corrupt, lazy and arbitrary by public. Besides this, the self-perception of police was also found to be negative as they themselves felt overworked, unappreciated and victims of political manipulation. The deliberations following the result of survey led to the identification of the following interventions: 
<p style="margin: 0in 45pt 6pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: -22.5pt" class="MsoNormal">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>1.<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">        
</span></span></span></strong><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">In-service
training program: </span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">This included
modules on:</span>
<p style="margin: 0in 45.35pt 0.0001pt 103.7pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>a.<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">      
</span></span></span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-size: 11pt">Professional
enhancement of investigating officers with inputs on improving the competence
level and use of scientific techniques.</span>
<p style="margin: 0in 45.35pt 6pt 103.7pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>b.<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">     
</span></span></span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-size: 11pt">Improving public
relations with inputs on ‘soft skills’ such as communication, mediation, stress
management, motivation, team building, leadership, attitudinal change,
nutrition, health etc.</span>
<p style="margin: 0in 45pt 6pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: -22.5pt" class="MsoNormal">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>2.<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">        
</span></span></span></strong><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Community
Observers: </span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Introduced for the first
time, the community observers were local volunteers chosen to sit in the police
station for approximately three hours in the morning and evening (peak hours),
with the sole purpose of observing the activities within the police
station.<span>  They had access to all areas including the lock up. </span>The presence of the observer
would have many positive impacts: increasing public awareness of the roles of
the police, improving police behavior, and encouraging citizens to visit the
police station.<span>  </span></span>
<p style="margin: 0in 45pt 6pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: -22.5pt" class="MsoNormal">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>3.<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">        
</span></span></span></strong><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Weekly day
off</span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"> and <strong>Duty roster system: </strong>Under
this, the entire staff in selected police stations (except the SHO) received
one day off every seven days. In addition, each person was given the opportunity
to perform all the duties at the police station on a roster basis.<span>  </span>The goal was to create a transparent and fair
system of work allocation that would lead to lower stress, more flexibility,
reduced corruption, better informed constabulary and higher overall
<p style="margin: 0in 45pt 6pt; text-align: justify; text-indent: -22.5pt" class="MsoNormal">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>4.<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">        
</span></span></span></strong><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Freezing
of transfers: </span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">All<strong> </strong>administrative
transfers in the police stations were prohibited for a period of one and half
years since frequent transfers (due to outside interference) had adverse effect
on professional and family lives of police personnel. </span>
<p class="MsoBlockText">
<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'Palatino Linotype'">The
choice of the above mentioned reform initiatives was done keeping in mind their
cost-effectiveness, simplicity (as they were to be implemented by SHOs of
various police stations), sustenance and the fact that they were capable of generating
evidence of success. In Feb 2006, the pre-pilot experimentation of these
initiatives was launched in eleven police stations in Jaipur North, Jaipur
East, Jaipur Rural and Sikar districts. After three months of successful
execution, these initiatives were further scaled up to 150 police stations in
eleven districts across Rajasthan: Ajmer, Alwar, Barmer, Chittorgarh,
Pratapgarh, Dholpur, Hanumangarh, Jaipur City East, Kota City, Nagaur, and
Udaipur for a period of one and a half years. </span>
<p class="MsoBlockText">
<span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'Palatino Linotype'">During
the course of this project, around 350 investigation officers (Inspectors, Sub
Inspectors and ASIs) were trained on a weeklong module at Rajasthan Police
Academy Jaipur for improving their skills on investigation. Also, 2000 police
personnel (all ranks) were trained on soft skills, via a three- day module, to
improve public relations with the help of IL&amp;FS (ETS).<span>     </span></span>
<p class="MsoBlockText">
<strong><em><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: 'Palatino Linotype'">Study Design</span></em></strong>
<p style="margin-left: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal">
<span style="font-size: 11pt">The
goal of this project was not only to implement these reforms, but also to
provide scientific and quantitative evidence of their effectiveness.<span>  </span>Therefore within each district, the police
stations and respondents were selected randomly into treatment and control
samples.<span>  </span>Data collection was done
through baseline and end line surveys with continuous monitoring during the
implementation period.<span>  </span>The random
selection of police stations and respondents ensured that the effectiveness of
each of reforms is measured in an unbiased manner. </span>
<p style="margin-left: -0.25in" class="MsoNormal">
<span style="font-size: 11pt">The
project was completed in June 2008.<span>  </span>The
results from the analysis of the data are now available. The main findings are
summarized below:  <br />
<p class="MsoNormal">
<strong><em>Findings on Crime in Rajasthan,
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraph">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Symbol"><span>·<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">        
</span></span></span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-size: 11pt">Percentage of
households that were victims of crimes vary dramatically across districts:</span>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraph">
District  -   % Households victim to at least 1 crime 
<li>Ajmer  7%  </li>
<li>Alwar  8%  </li>
<li>Barmer   3%  </li>
<li>Chittorgarh  10%  </li>
<li>Dholpur  18%  </li>
<li>Hanumangarh  7%</li>
<li>Jaipur   10%</li>
<li>Kota  13%</li>
<li>Nagaur   4%</li>
<li>Udaipur 5%</li>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpFirst">
<span style="font-size: 11pt">Of these crimes,
71% are never reported to the police</span>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><span style="font-size: 11pt; font-family: Symbol"><span>·<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">        
</span></span></span><!--[endif]--><span style="font-size: 11pt">In cases when the
crime is reported to the police, an FIR is registered 72% of the time.<span>  </span>Thus 21% of crimes occurring in households
lead to FIRs being registered with the police.</span>
<h1><em><span style="font-size: 11pt">Results
of Project Interventions:</span></em></h1>
<h2><span style="font-size: 11pt">Increasing duration of police postings
improves relations with the public:</span></h2>
<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]--><span style="font-size: 11pt">In stations where
transfers were frozen, 19% fewer respondent reported fearing the police than in
control stations</span>
<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]--><span style="font-size: 11pt">In stations where
transfers were frozen, 8% fewer police staff members complained of poor
treatment or disrespect from the public</span>
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">In stations where
transfers were frozen, 30% more crime victims reported to be fully or mostly
satisfied with the police. </span></li>
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<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]-->
<h2><span style="font-size: 11pt">Communications and public relations training
increases satisfaction of crime victims:</span></h2>
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<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">Although on
average only 27% of victims are satisfied with police investigations, training
all police station staff more than doubles satisfaction—increasing it to 58%.</span></li>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraph">
<h2><span style="font-size: 11pt">Investigation training for officers improves
the quality of crime investigations:</span></h2>
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<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">Crime victims in
police station where officers received extra training report that police were
more proactive in investigating—collecting more evidence, interviewing more
witnesses, and making more arrest.</span></li>
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<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast">
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<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">In independent
reviews of case files by retired police officers, cases investigated by
officers who had received extra training were graded 13% higher in their use of
scientific investigation techniques.</span></li>
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<h2><span style="font-size: 11pt">Freezing of transfers reduces staff
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<!--[if !supportLists]-->
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">Police staff in
stations where transfers were frozen were more likely to respond positively on
a variety of questions regarding fairness and transparency in the police.</span></li>
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<!--[if !supportLists]-->
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">Freezing
transfers made respondents less likely to complain of instability and
uncertainty in postings.</span></li>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast">
<h2><span style="font-size: 11pt">Giving a weekly day off to police staff
increases satisfaction:</span></h2>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraph">
<!--[if !supportLists]-->
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">Police staff in
stations that received a weekly off reported being more satisfied with their
jobs than in control stations</span></li>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraph">
<h2><span style="font-size: 11pt">Rotation of Duties makes constables more
skilled at a variety of tasks:</span></h2>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpFirst">
<!--[if !supportLists]-->
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">When given a test
of their knowledge of basic police duties and information, constables at
stations with duty rotation scored higher than those at control police
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpFirst">
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast">
<!--[if !supportLists]-->
<li><span style="font-size: 11pt">Constables at
stations with duty rotation reported having higher levels of expertise in a
wide range of duties as compared with those in control police stations.</span></li>
<p style="margin-left: 31.5pt; text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast">
<h1><span style="font-size: 11pt">Recommendations:</span></h1>
<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">National Crime Victimization Survey</span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">: A national crime victimization survey carried out
every two or three years, helping us identify problem areas as well as
providing data that could be used for assessing effectiveness of reform
policies. Our survey provides a template for how this can be done</span>
<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Freezing of
Transfers:<span>  </span></span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Increasing transfer time appears to have significant
effects on public relations, as well as decreasing staff grievances.<span>  </span>Although this is often presented as a
politically difficult reform, this project has shown that it is both feasible
and beneficial and as such is recommended as a permanent goal.</span>
<!--[if !supportLists]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Training:</span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>   </span>Both
investigation training and public relations training showed positive effects on
public satisfaction and crime investigations.<span> 
</span>These interventions are straightforward to scale up and should be
extended to the remaining Rajasthan Police staff.</span>
<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]--><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Weekly
Off/Rotation of Duties:</span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt"><span>  </span>These interventions showed some effect in
increasing staff moral and flexibility (in that more staff members were trained
for each task). <span> </span>However, these effects
did not generate significant changes in more traditional indicators of police
performance.<span>  </span></span>
<li><strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">Community
Observer: </span></strong><span style="font-size: 11pt">The community observer
intervention had no effect on public perception of the police, potentially due
to the short duration of the study, or with issues related to
implementation.<span>  </span>As such it cannot be
<p style="text-indent: -0.25in" class="ListParagraphCxSpLast">
<!--[if !supportLists]--><!--[endif]-->
<p class="MsoBlockText">

Resource: Rajasthan & MIT Impact Evaluation


Thank you for sharing this resource. I've posted the PDF of the document available for people to download to study more thoroughly. 

Police Performance and Public Perception: Impact Evaluation

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Accountability - Community Observers


I wanted to take up a point that you raised in your impact evaluation study - that of the role of community observers. You stated:

Introduced for the first
time, the community observers were local volunteers chosen to sit in the police
station for approximately three hours in the morning and evening (peak hours),
with the sole purpose of observing the activities within the police
station.  They had access to all areas including the lock up. The presence of the observer
would have many positive impacts: increasing public awareness of the roles of
the police, improving police behavior, and encouraging citizens to visit the
police station."

This aspect of involving the community in understanding the roles of the police and having an investment in their police services - as well as providing an "audience" to let the police know that their behavior was being observed and they would be held accountable is a powerful approach.

I want to share four examples of powerful community involvement from our New Tactics on-line tactics database to provide what we call "transferability" ideas (an idea that was implemented in another country regarding a different issue can be adapted for another issues and country). I hope these can give some ideaas that could be considered by others to implement:

  1. community monitoring of police - Monitoring police conduct through personal observation - Like Nina's example, different places where citizen's can observe police behavior, on the street, in the police station, etc)
  2. community monitoring of  judges - Citizen monitoring of courts as a means of creating system change - using a simple symbol like "red clipboards" to highlight citizen monitoring and collecting data to promote policy change
  3. community monitoring of public allocation of funds (budget monitoring) - Human Rights Budgeting to Promote and Protect Social and Economic Rights (Note - this is also a tactical notebook, Using Government Budgets as a Monitoring Tool) - how might citizen monitoring of budgets improve the conditions for law enforcement while helping citizens to understand the true costs of community policing; safety; crime prevention/investigation, etc.? 
  4. community monitoring of development funds (specifically targeting issues of  corruption) - Using peoples platforms where citizens can publicly challenge officials on the difference between promises and reality (Note - this is also a tactical notebook, Right to Know, Right to Live - this example of public accountability of funds might be a very powerful tool to address corruption within law enforcement

Community monitoring is a powerful accountability tool as well as a powerful empowering tool for the community itself to understand the roles and limits of public servants and the community's own responsibility for ensuring their own rights.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Community Policing

Thanks Nancy for your comment.
It takes us to the significance of community policing, which I see as an efficient tool for bringing both community and police to a joint ground of responsibilities and rights.
In fact this issue nowadays is needed more than ever , specially in some countries where police plays an outstanding role in expanded areas of responsibilities, the fact that leads to a continuous confrontation between the police and individuals through the day hours.
I also would like to add that the step to de-politicize police is of great significance here, considering the fact that in many countries police is a tool for achieving political goals, which diverge this important institute away from its original sphere as a guarantee for the community security and tranquility. 

Community Involvement


Thanks a lot for sharing the examples. Undoubtedly community oversight is a powerful tool, yet on the basis of my personal experience as a practitioner there are two observations:

  1. In the front line police (I mean police stations that are the basic service delivery centes) there is a general resistance in outreaching community. Often it is  considered as an additinal burden on their normal work and hence lack of interest  except the few individuals whom they consider helpful.
  2. On the part of community there is a general lack of enthusiasm in association with police.

Therefore, the need of training among the police as well as the awareness among community regarding the useful ness of their participation becomes crucial. Soft skill training for police officers was the training intiative that we introduced with the objective to outreach community.  The process of ADR is also included in the training content . Besides we also train our community observers regarding their roles and resonsibilities. Although their main work is just to sit in the police stations and observe but at many places they were instrumental in helping the complainants file  FIRs (First Information Report), do counselling and help in settling disputes.

Nina Singh, (India), Inspector General of Police, Rajasthan, Indian Police Service (IPS)

Training for Community Involvement


Thank you for raising these important barriers - of both perception (community outreach and involvement is a burden) and also reality (that outreach does take significant effort and involvement of community members can hamper more than help police).

This could be an area where NGOs could indeed  "stick to your role" and provide community members with excellent training for appropriate community roles. You outlined a number of places where community members can provide assistance to police (helping people to fill out the required forms), while still being able to be good observers of police behavior while performing their duties.

A Thai police trainee provided answered this question, “What does POLICE mean?" with the following (Found on page 12 of Police Training: Opening the door for professional and community-oriented policing)

  • P – Polite
  • O – Organized
  • L – Lawful
  • I – Intelligent
  • C – Community-oriented
  • E – Educated”

Your post made me want to answer "What does "CITIZEN" mean?" Here is my try - any reactions?

  • C - Community-oriented
  • I - Independent
  • T - Trained
  • I - Involved
  • Z - Zealous (filled with enthusiasm)
  • E - Educated (not required to be school educated but informed about rights/processes)
  • N - Necessary for accountability

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Community involvement: from the field

Hi Nina,


Your observations are very interesting and practical no doubt. I would like add here one observation that in many cases front line officers doesn’t feel courage to start communicating with community because of departmental harassment (I have mentioned “courage” because very often it has found they fall down in problem for this). Still I can remember after concluding a training session one sub-inspector said this training will go in vain unless you can motivate our supervisors.  Because they hardly allow us to visit community people.


Community’s enthusiasm is missing as they found police are not serious at all listening community’s crisis, and hardly give attention without their personal benefits. Even they said “criminals are paying them so why they listen to us”.



Rakib, Senior Program Officer; Rights and Criminal Justice, The Asia Foundation, Bangladesh

Accountability Examples

Thanks for sharing the the examples of community accountability Nancy!

Nina Singh, (India), Inspector General of Police, Rajasthan, Indian Police Service (IPS)

accountability - official mechanisms

Alice Verghese

 1. How do law enforcement trainings address the role of official mechanisms of accountability? At the local, national and international levels

Trainers at forums like these could ideally map similar patterns where and how accountability breaks down - in my experience (although this lacks concrete scientific basis  ) weak accountabilty at a local level has a few common features

i. group bonding and language 

ii.  group insularity

iii.high levels of peer pressure to resist whistle blowers

iv.resistance and weak leaderships

There may be other common patterns which may be helpful to identify jointly before addressing  official mechanisms of accountabilty







accountability - civil society

Alice Verghese

Civil society at national , regional and inyternational  levels has the possibility of documenting common behavioural traits: those working with torture victims can easily recognise torture methods and patterns across the globe. Hence a mapping of uniformity of techniques could infer uniformity of trainihng of police in the use of torture , and perhpas even uniformity of systematic use and common policy . a deeper understanding of this could contribute to accountability at various levels

Civil suits and accountability - an actual victory

Some years ago, an Indonesian general entered the US and was targeted by human rights activists. The story below might provide a pointer to other activists as to how to proceed:


Lumintang First Ranking Officer to Be Held Accountable for East Timor Post-Vote Violence

Contact: John M. Miller, (718)596-7668; (917)690-4391
Anthony DiCaprio, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), (212)614-6456 
Joshua Sondheimer
, Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), 415-544-0444 x303 

The East Timor Action Network (ETAN) today hailed U.S. Federal Court Judge Alan Kay’s order holding Indonesian General Johny Lumintang liable for $66 million for his role in systematic human rights violations following East Timor's overwhelming vote for independence in 1999.

The six plaintiffs or their estates were granted $10 million each in punitive damages. Compensatory damages ranged from $750,000 to $1.75 million each.

"It has been established... that Lumintang has responsibility for the actions against plaintiffs and a larger pattern of gross human rights violations," wrote Judge Kay. "[H]e - along with other high-ranking members of the Indonesian military - planned, ordered, and instigated acts carried out by subordinates to terrorize and displace the East Timorese population ... and to destroy East Timor's infrastructure following the vote for independence."

Last March, Judge Kay presided over three days of hearings in Washington, DC, during which the court heard testimony of the plaintiffs and expert witnesses. The plaintiffs were victims of Indonesian military and militia violence. The decision was issued last month. (The text of the judge's findings can be found at

To date, the case against General Lumintang is the only one brought in any jurisdiction against a high-level Indonesian commander for the destruction following East Timor's August 30, 1999 UN-organized vote. General Lumintang chose not to defend himself in court.

"This judgment sends a strong message that the Indonesian military, police, and political leaders responsible for 1999's devastation of East Timor must be held accountable. Indonesia clearly lacks the will and East Timor the resources and access to defendants, to prosecute ranking officials responsible for these crimes against humanity,” said John M. Miller of ETAN, which supported the suit. “An international tribunal is essential to uphold international human rights standards and to end the impunity of the Indonesian military. While this judgment is no substitute for an international tribunal, at least one member of the Indonesian command has been brought to justice,” Miller added.

"The people of East Timor have been searching for justice for nearly three decades. The overwhelming violence that took place after August 30, 1999 vote affected nearly every person in East Timor. The United States is distinctly and unfortunately able to empathize with this profound suffering and it is appropriate that a U.S. court is the first in the world to find the defendant, along with other high-ranking members of the Indonesian military, responsible for the violence in East Timor," said Anthony DiCaprio of the Center for Constitutional Rights, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

"The tragic events of September 11 have reminded us all that attacks on innocent civilians are never justified," said Joshua Sondheimer of Center for Justice and Accountability, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "The court's ruling sends a message that if those responsible for grave human rights abuses against civilians want to enter the United States, they will be held accountable under U.S. law ."

In 1999, Lumintang, as vice chief of staff, was second in command of the Indonesian army. Following the August 30, 1999 UN-organized referendum, the Indonesian military and militia that operated with their support systematically destroyed East Timor, murdering at least 2000 East Timorese and destroying 70-80 percent of the infrastructure. Three-quarters of the population was forced from their homes.

In his ruling, Judge Kay cited the principle of command responsibility where "a commander may be criminally or civilly responsible for crimes committed by subordinates." He said that Lumintang is "both directly and indirectly responsible for human rights violations committed against" the plaintiffs. Evidence of direct involvement included his signature on certain key documents. He is also liable because as a member of the TNI high command he knew or should have known that subordinates were involved in systematic rights violations in East Timor and he failed to act to prevent or punish the violations.

Plaintiffs who traveled to Washington to testify in the proceedings included an East Timorese victim of Indonesian military and militia violence, whose brother was killed and father injured in post-election attacks. The father testified via videotape. Two other East Timorese targeted by the Indonesian military in September 1999 during the scorched earth campaign from Indonesia also testified: a mother whose son was killed, and a man who was shot by Indonesian soldiers and subsequently had his foot amputated.

The Megawati administration's recently amended decree establishing a special human rights court on East Timor in Indonesia falls far short of fully addressing the military's role in orchestrating the violence and devastation. It only covers April and September 1999 in three out of Timor's 13 districts. This excludes many atrocities that occurred outside of those time periods and locations, as well as the systematic coordination of the scorched-earth campaign by senior level security forces personnel as noted by both Indonesian and UN commissions of inquiry and, now, by Judge Kay.

“The lack of justice for the people of East Timor flies in the face of the recent emphasis on justice and rule-of-law expressed by both Presidents Bush and Megawati during the Indonesian president’s recent visit to the White House. Although the Indonesian military remains above the law, terrorizing and killing civilians throughout the archipelago, the Bush administration seeks to reward it with prestigious military assistance,” said Karen Orenstein, Washington Coordinator for ETAN.

Lt. Gen. Lumintang is currently secretary general of the Ministry of Defense. He was trained by the U.S. under the Pentagon's IMET (International Military Education and Training) program and had been a past commander in East Timor.

In 1992, a judgment for $14 million was issued in a similar case against Indonesian General Sintong Panjaitan for his involvement in the Nov. 12, 1991 Santa Cruz massacre of over 270 East Timorese.

The Lumintang lawsuit, like the Panjaitan case, is based in part on the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 which allows non-citizens to sue for acts committed outside the United States "in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." The 1991 Torture Victim Protection Act reaffirms the 1789 law and gives U.S. courts jurisdiction over claims by citizens involving torture and extra-judicial killing occurring anywhere. Lawsuits can only go forward if the defendant is served legal papers while in the U.S.

Lumintang was personally served notice of the civil suit on March 30, 2000, while visiting the Washington, DC area. After he failed to answer the charges, including crimes against humanity, summary execution and torture, a judge declared Lumintang in default.

Counsel for the case are the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, the San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability and the Washington, DC law firm of Patton, Boggs.

For the text of Judge Kay's "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" and more information about the Lumintang and Panjaitan cases, see


Dr. Clinton Fernandes, (Australia), Senior Lecturer, Strategic Studies, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales

Accountability - Civil suits for victim redress


Thank you so much for sharing this example regarding East Timor. A number of non-governmental organizations in the United States have been successfully applying the two significant laws mentioned in your article:

"...the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 which allows
non-citizens to sue for acts committed outside the United States "in
violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States. The
1991 Torture Victim Protection Act reaffirms the 1789 law and gives
U.S. courts jurisdiction over claims by citizens involving torture and
extra-judicial killing occurring anywhere. Lawsuits can only go forward
if the defendant is served legal papers while in the U.S."

New Tactics has an excellent tactical notebook written by Sandra Colliver, the former executive director of the Center for Justice and AccountabilityReparations: Using civil lawsuits to obtain reparation for survivors of human rights abuses and to challenge the impunity of their abusers, that provides a step-by-step understanding of how such civil suits can be useful for gaining a level of redress and reparations for victims.

As you mentioned, the Center for Consitutional Rights has used this process among others. I would like to mention that the International Labor Rights Fund has also succcessfully used these laws to gain redress and compensation regarding crimes committed by international corporations. This article, Alien Tort Claims Act: Holding Corporations Accountable for Human Rights Violations in the Global Economy, by Terry Collingsworth that was written a number of years ago (2003) but provides an excellent overview of how ILRF is applying this tactic to hold corporations (Total, Coca Cola, Del Monte, Exxon Mobile, etc) accountable for such acts as forced, slave labor in Burma and Colombia.

Although these suits do not provide for criminal sentances, they do provide an avenue for accountability and target abusers in such a way as to limit their freedom of movement. They can no longer travel anywhere they would like with impuntity. 

Do people have other kinds of examples from your countries regarding efforts to to hold those who have committed torture accountabile for their actions? 

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Kenya Civil society accountability mechanism-National Accord

<span>In Kenya, the Security reforms process has been ongoing coupled with constitutional change. The Civil society in Kenya has been work taking the linkages between police reform at the
peace process, building capacity to engage on National Agenda 4 and Other constitutional reform issues  critical to the National Reconcilation Accord that was mediated by Koffi Annan's AU Eminent Person Panel.</span>
<p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span>The outcome of
extensive debate among a number of civil society stakeholders has been the
establishment of the <span class="il">Usalama</span> Reform Forum. This is a forum of civil society practitioners who have come
together to promote security sector reform in Kenya and specifically police
reform. The initiative developed out of a conference held as far back as
November 2008 and has since then consolidated into the <span class="il">Usalama</span> Forum. </span>
<p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span>The Forum
is managed through a steering committee which  includes the Kenya National
Commission on Human Rights; PeaceNet-Kenya, Saferworld, Kenya Muslim Youth
Alliance, Eastern Africa Institute of Security Studies, Eastern Africa Peace
Institute, Africa Research Foundation, Kibera Community Policing Committee,
Socio-Economic Rights Foundation, Amani-Parliamentary Forum, Nairobi Peace
Forum, ChemChemi Ya Ukweli, Africa Policing Civilian Oversight Forum and 
the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. It is structured both at National and
decentralised level . These include: </span>
<p style="margin-left: 0.25in; text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span><span>1)<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">     
</span></span></span><strong><span>Nairobi <span class="il">Usalama</span> Forum:</span></strong><span> is part of the ongoing dialogue between the Kenya National
Commission on Human Rights and the Police Station Commanders across Nairobi.
The intention is to establish appropriate frameworks for human rights
observance in policing across Nairobi.  The Forum has met once and is
expected to be sustained through regular contacts</span>
<p style="margin-left: 0.25in; text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span><span>2)<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">     
</span></span></span><strong><span>Nyanza <span class="il">Usalama</span> Forum:</span></strong><span> Like the Nairobi Forum, The intention is to establish appropriate
frameworks for human rights observance in policing across Nyanza.  </span>
<p style="margin-left: 0.25in; text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span><span>3)<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">     
</span></span></span><strong><span>Western <span class="il">Usalama</span> Forum:</span></strong><span> Like the other forums, this Forum is part of the ongoing dialogue
between the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Police Station
Commanders across Western province. The intention is to establish appropriate
frameworks for human rights observance in policing across Western Province. </span>
<p style="margin-left: 0.25in; text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span><span>4)<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">     
</span></span></span><strong><span>North Rift <span class="il">Usalama</span> Forum:</span></strong><span> This forum brings together the KNCHR, Peace Net-Kenya and other CSO
actors to address conclusively all the security issues across the North
Rift.  The Forum has established an implementation strategy.  </span>
<p style="margin-left: 0.25in; text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span><span>5)<span style="font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-weight: normal; font-size: 7pt; line-height: normal; font-size-adjust: none; font-stretch: normal; font-family: 'Times New Roman'">     
</span></span></span><span>N<strong>orthern Kenya <span class="il">Usalama</span>
Forum:</strong> This forum brings together the KNCHR, Peace Net-Kenya and other CSO
actors to address conclusively all the security issues across the North
Rift.  The Forum has established an implementation strategy.  </span>
<table border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" width="486" height="12" align="right">
<td align="left" valign="top" style="padding: 0in 9pt"> </td>
<p style="text-align: justify" class="MsoNormal">
<span><span class="il">Usalama</span> has also managed to establish good relations with both the
Administra tion Police and the Kenya Police. The strategy of
the Forum is focussed on three themes, legislative reform, institutional
development and police accountability.  In the latter theme we are among
others seeking ways to operationalise the common standards for policing along
the concept ideas we discussed previously. The Forum has also made extensive
input into the Police Reform Task Team.</span>
<p class="MsoNormal">
<span>Over the next  few weeks we plan to host a
number of public forums to which we will invite you.We looking forward to partnership to help us run the processes. <br />

Kenya Civil Society Experience

Thank you for sharing this process that Kenya has been undertaking.

I'm very interested to learn more about:

  • How the law enforcement officers and structures have been involved?
  • What has been their level of participation and input in the process?
  • What role will they be playing in the upcoming public forums taking place in the various provinces and regional areas of Kenya?

Your experiences will be highly valuable to share with others facing similar challenges, I hope you'll come back to this dialogue and share about the how the process goes and ideas that emerge from the public community forums.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

accountability - civil society

Alice Verghese

 leadership and lines of responsibility

In "democratic" countries where "emergency regulations"  are imposed for a host of reasons  (fighting terrorism is a popular one ) the question of leadership , with clear lines of responsibility is often lacking.  For example, in the Philippines where the IRCT  along with member centres have been workng for over 10 years have experienced New Emergency Regulations (ER, or Emergency Miscellaneous Provisions and PowersRegulations, EMPPR) were imposed on 14 August 2005 The regulation is loosely worded. Notably the legislation strengthens impunity allowing prosecution exemptions for members of the security forces deemed to be acting in “good faith.”(Regulation 19)  

 Not only police officers and soldiers, but also so-called “public officers” and those specifically authorized by the President may make arrests under the ER. In addition, the ER allow joint operations of arrest between the army and the police without clarifying the respective responsibilities of these two forces.  Contrary to sections 24 to 26 of the Evidence Ordinance, under the ER, confessions tosenior police officers may also be used as evidence in court. Another worrying issue is the question of the leadership during "emergency"  According to the Philippine Constitution the civilian authority is, at all times, supreme over the military. However,  Armed Forces Philippines (AFP)  maintains that it  “takes the leading role and the Police the supporting role. This vagueness further contributes to creating a climate of impunity since responsibilities are not clearly identified. Although I agree with a lot that has been said about community policing, eventually, it is worth mentioning that the army in the Philippines relies upon civilians for fighting terrorism,  by using the Citizens Armed Forces Georgraphic Units (CAFGU) further blurring the line of responsibilities.  Such units are frequently accused of abuses, victims pointing out to the fact that CAFGUs are not adequately trained whereas they are armed. AFP provides them with 48 hours training on international humanitarian law. 

I raise this as I dont believe this is peculiar to Philippines but may resonate with others in other parts of the world. The clear lines of responsibilities of the police distinguished from and army /miilitary  under "ordinary or " emergency " situations and drawn to the notice of the public is crucial for accountabilty.


Police Commissions, Councils and their roles in Accountability

Col. Cecil B. Griffiths, (Liberia) Founder and President of the Liberia National Law Enforcement Association (LINLEA).

In many countries, police commissions or councils have been established to provide some form of accountability to police functions. In Liberia, discussions are ongoing regarding setting up of an oversight mechanism for the police to address accountability. Are there best practices when it comes to the use of police commissions to address accountability issues within the police?

 Training definately can play a significant role in providing the knowledge, skills and awareness for policed officers in preventing torture. However, some training programs may be sub-standard. Even when trainings are well tailored, we cannot be sure that police officers will not disregard what they have been taught..

Many of my colleagues have mentioned the importance of supervision in following up on officers conduct and behavior.  But we have seen situations in which supervisors themselves are not qualified to lead. In many police services, promotions may not be based on merit.

When torture and other forms of police abuses are not sanctioned by the police administration, such misconduct can be addressed by effective supervision, training and effective policy guidelines which are implemented.  However, when torture is sanctioned by police executives, then it becomes difficult to handle.

 Have police commissions been able to address the issue of  political appolintments of police executives who must dance to the tune of the president rather than abide by the rule of law, a sitauaion which can promote torture? 


CHALLENGES (access, credibility, contradictions, structures)

In this major theme area of challenges, please share your questions, ideas, stories and experiences regarding
the following areas:

  • Access
    • How do human rights professionals gain access to law enforcement structures and trainees?
    • What are the various ways in which both law enforcement (from within) and organizations external to law enforcement structures are provided access to new trainees and those already in the field? 
  • Credibility
    • What makes human rights professionals credible in the eyes of law enforcement when they provide training? 
    • How can human rights professionals make trainings relevant to realities of law enforcement work?
  • Contradictions regarding law and practice
    • How does law enforcement training address the dilemma of laws that contradict universally accepted standards of human rights?  Does it mean that law enforcement officers are doing a fine job when just abiding by laws?
    • How are questions and practices addressed where the organization can claim fully clean hands in any torturous activities, but “under the table” render these activities acceptable and provide superficial investigations that leave perpetrators not seriously-punished or without punishment?
  • Hierarchical law enforcement structures
    • What barriers face those who have completed law enforcement trainings when they enter the field where veteran officers without such training hold rank?
    • Are training tactics that raise the awareness of law enforcement officers to the considerable sanctions (where they exist) against violators effective?
Challenges - Access to law enforcement structures

Evgeni Genchev

In our experience, a real useful access, we have had only when there were truly motivated officers and structures for reforms concerning policing and human rights. Also when there was an external pressure for human rights reforms in the police it helped very much. Such was the accession process to EU which Bulgaria has undergone. Now the priorities of the EU have changed, they are no more concerned with human rights, but in the effectiveness of the police work, so working with the police on human rights issues has become difficult.

Motives for Human Rights support

Ibrahim Elghazawi,PhD Humphrey Fellow School of law University of Minnesota

Thanks Evgeni ..

I do agree totally with you , it happened many times when the support of human rights issues was a mixture of external pressure and internal official adherence to both external and internal heat coming from NGOs sometimes, influential international powers, or even internal active human rights advocacy societies, but in any case once the move towards human rights awareness start, it is  usually easier to further enhance and deepen the training "dose" is real struggle but persistence and full conviction of human rights Nobel cause is really helpful to keep the pot boiling. 

Challenges - Credibility

Evgeni Genchev We have always put as an important issue in our meetings and trainings of the police officers in human rights the question: "What is the police officer's personal benefit from abidance of human rights and not practicing violence?"  The answer is that no normal human being wants to feel guilty or a perpetrator and practicing violence is dehumanizing and demoralizing for the police officer himself. It's against his personal dignity. This has always had a good resonance with the police officers. Also practicing violence hinders the professional police work, because in court no testimonies taken with violence would go. Also there is real risk for a police officer to be dismissed and even been brought to trial for a complaint of violence.

Incentives and non-incentives

Thanks for this input - I find it very useful. I think it comes down to the incentives for police officers to respect human rights. We should therefore also consider the possible non-incentives, such as orders from superiors or rewards (i.e. promotions) for actions that violate human rights. This might be a particular problem in conflict situations for example. It is clear that following orders is not a defense. At the same time, securtiy forces depend on hierachy and discipline. I'd be interested to hear experiences on how these issues have been approached in trainings.   

Jem Stevens
Asia-Pacific Programme Officer
Association for the Prevention of Torture

Challenges: Training of Police & Priosn Officers& Justice Bodies

In our case, since we were implementing advocacy and capacity building training on international and national laws against torture and the effects of torture with the fund from the EU delegation here in Ethiopia in the year 2008. We have faced challenges in screening these target gropups. Specially in the capital, Addis Ababa the Concerned federal governmental authorities were not voluntary to sign a project agreement. Since, the objectives of the training were to conducct similiar trainings in the eight major regional cities of the country signing the agreement with the federal government were very important. However, we have created contact with each of the regional concerned governmental authorities and provided all the trainings in each of the regions successfully. Is there any one who might faced similar challenges in your context?

Hierarchical law enforcement structures

Evgeni Genchev

In Bulgaria the police has a totalitarian tradition of being a repressive instrument. So arbitrarity has been the law for the police officers (than called militionairs). So human rights is something foreign to the police culture and only the cases when policemen get in trouble because of violating human rights makes them being thoughtfull about it. In the trainings, I am not sure this is the accurate word, because we do seminars more to inform and warn, we explain them that violations of human rights will not be supported by their superiors when they become disclosed. So to violate human rights is a personal decision and responsability and a violation of the laws. Also we tend to include in the seminars high ranking officers to support our statements.

"State security"

In any police setting, there is such a shady area called "state security", which constitute a taboo for outsiders, unfortuantely this concept is very vague and has blurring borders, so what is considered "state security" is a big mystery and police usually holds this concept tightly, when it comes to what can be considered as state security issue, you 'll  face : repressive attitudes- curtained activities- hidden plans- extra-judicial trials- secret prisons- suspicious cooperation with other similar agents in other countries- huge array of human rights abuses-total support from the ruling systems.

I'm talking about an area of police activity that does exist in every country, but with different levels and different mechanisms, even the States , such a leading world power in democracy, have such a line of security taboo ( where many violations were committed in the name of national security and war against terrorism). So police totalitarianism is not a concept imprint in just one or several countries, but in every country they have it , with different rates, the privilege that a democratic country has which makes it in advantageous position in terms of human rights issues- is that the community has its own conviction and can change the ruling party from power when they feel that they should. where as in other countries where democracy is a decorative ornament in the political life, you will not have such a wary community or a democratic atmosphere that enables people to topple their rulers if they go beyond the lines of people interests.

Ibrahim Omar 

Challenges: Addressing "state security"


Thank you for raising this very challenging area regarding training of law enforcement for prevention of ill-treatment and torture. As you so so eloquently stated, this is a concern in every country in the world.  It is challenge within the law enforcement structures but also a challenge to inform the general population as well.

The Center for Victims of Torture  has been very active and working to address this "state security" aspect here in the United States with a "Campaign to Ban Torture." It has involved a wide constituency - including many former military and law enforcement people - working to raise the issue. The Campaign targeted the presidential candidates in 2008. The effort resulted in President Obama signing an Executive Order to Ban Torture on his first day of office.

However, the efforts and work have not stopped there. The Campaign to Ban Torture outlined a set of six principles - each of which require action to implement and ensure an end to ill-treatment and torture. Perhaps these principles would be helpful for others to see if they would be useful as they work within the context of their own government structures to stop ill-treatment and torture.

  • The “Golden Rule.” Do not employ any interrogation methods that would be unacceptable if used against Americans.
  • One national standard. Adopt one national standard for treatment of prisoners.
  • The rule of law. Acknowledge all prisoners to our courts or the International Red Cross. Allow prisoners to prove their innocence through a fair and just process.
  • Duty to protect. Do not transfer any person to countries that use torture.
  • Checks and balances. Allow Congress and the courts access to information necessary to provide oversight of our detention and interrogation policies.
  • Clarity and accountability. Hold accountable all U.S. officials who authorize, implement, or fail in their duty to prevent the use of torture.

I would be interested to know if law enforcement trainings provide a set of easy to remember principles - and if so, what you have found most useful to law enforcement personnel.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Re: state security

Interestingly, although people were shocked by some of the humiliation photos that surfaced in the aftermath of the Iraq war, many of those techniques (stripping, taunting, etc) were used in Resistance To Interrogation courses that are common in some NATO armies. So you could follow the Golden Rule and still employ interrogation methods that the average citizen would be shocked by.   



Dr. Clinton Fernandes, (Australia), Senior Lecturer, Strategic Studies, Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales

Easy to remember principles

Ralph Crawshaw

 The notion of 'easy to remember principles' is a good one Nancy. These can be derived from the international standards on the treatment of detainees.

Apart from the treaty provisions prohibiting torture and ill-treatment, and requiring humane treatment of detainees (for example in articles 7 and 10 respectively of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), there are very specific provisions in non-treaty instruments.

The most relevant of these for detainees in police custody are the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons Under any Form of Detention or Imprisonment. These are very specific and detailed and include basic safeguards such as requiring detainees to be able to have access to lawyers, family and friends; requiring the recording of details of detainees and their detention; enabling them to make complaints about their conditions of detention, habeas corpus and so on. They also embody very specific standards on interviewing suspects which I feel I must quote:

Principle 21

1. It shall be prohibited to take undue advantage of the situation of a detained or imprisoned person for the purpose of compelling him to confess, to incriminate himself otherwise or to testify against any other person.

2. No detained person while being interrogated shall be subject to violence, threats or methods of interrogation which impair his capacity of decision or his judgement.

It is useful to read these standards with those of principle 15 of the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:

 15. Law enforcement officials, in their relations with persons in custody or detention, shall not use force, except when strictly necessary for the maintenance of security and order within the institution, or when personal safety is threatened.

So - no force on detainees except for reasons of self-defence of maintaining order! And certainly no grounds for using any form of force in the interrogation process.

Thinking of 'easy to remember principles' - it's a good training exercise to get participants to read these instruments and devise their own list of principles.

By the way I'm a bit concerned about one of the principles you cite, namely:

The rule of law. Acknowledge all prisoners to our courts or the International Red Cross. Allow prisoners to prove their innocence through a fair and just process.

Under the rule of law it's not for prisoners to prove their innocence, it's for the prosecution to prove guilt - ie the presumption of innocence.

Reply - Principles, Rule of Law, & Innocent until proven guilty


I wanted to be sure that I responded your post where you stated:

Ralph. wrote:

By the way I'm a bit concerned about one of the principles you cite, namely:

The rule of law. Acknowledge all prisoners to our courts or the International Red Cross. Allow prisoners to prove their innocence through a fair and just process.

Under the rule of law it's not for prisoners to prove their innocence, it's for the prosecution to prove guilt - ie the presumption of innocence.

I want to thank you for raising this important concern regarding my precious post. The Center for Victims of Torture "Campaign to Ban Torture" was based on the document "Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order on Prisoner Treatment, Torture and Cruelty".

We were trying to address the issue of the black hole of Guantanamo and others that would not consider evidence of innocence or give a process for a prisoner to take the offensive in proving their innocence.  We know that the basic principles of American justice are supposed to include that one is innocent until proven guilty.  But the paradigm that the Bush Administration was using for Guantanamo was more akin to prisoners of war in the sense that they declared their right to hold someone without trial until the end of the war. Not only were there no methods of prosecuting individuals, there was also no mechanism for the prisoner to demonstrate that they, in fact, were not engaged in any form of warfare.  This seemed like another Kafkaesque injustice from the Bush Administration that Americans would be against, if they knew that it was going on.

On the other hand, I do want to highlight that we did not incorporate this notion into the draft executive order we prepared for the new Administration based on the principles, which was signed by President Obama.

I hope this response answers your concern.

Nancy Pearson, New Tactics in Human Rights Program Manager

Influntial tools for detering official torture

Thanks Nancy... In this serious issue, I used to describe it as a mine -field that no one, of the civilians or NGOs, or even the law enforcement officers themselves in most levels, can predict its depth or width, it is so vague and always kept as dark spot of state activities concerning protecting the state and the interests of its people, but let me try to clarify some issues that can be helpful in that context:

  1. No matter how NGOs try to present a human-rights -based model for acceptable treatment, it remains difficult to penetrate this national security circle; it has been looked at as inviolable domain.
  2. Even when this delicate matter of national security is discussed publicly in parliaments in some democratic countries , the outcome used to be the same , square zero , and still many vague spots and shady tactics that can only be known to the public long after the time it was empowered.
  3. Training LEOs sometimes must be realistic not to touch on this issue, it is usually taken for granted as an out-of-discussion topic (this is a main stream universally).
  4. I think it still helpful , from psychological and emotional perspectives, and whenever the country system allows, to present a well shaped package of principles, like those you mentioned in your comment, as the pressure from NGOs, and community based calls when integrated into it, can be a solid consideration before the high executives eyes while framing the country orientation in that respect.

Ibrahim Elghazawi,PhD Humphrey Fellow School of law University of Minnesota

State security

Ralph Crawshaw

Ibrahim, whilst I agree with you that the notion of 'state security is a 'dark spot of state activities' I don't think that it is vague. It seems perfectly clear that it is sometimes considered acceptable to commit serious crimes and human rights violations to protect state security. That is not vague. Nancy has referred to torture and I would also add violations of the right to life - in other words (in this context) unlawful killings by the state that probably amount to murder. I don't believe that such acitivities, to use your words 'protect the state and the interests of the people'. It is not in the interests of the people, that the state within whose jurisdiction they live carries out unlawful killings and torture in their name.

Neither do such actions protect the state. It is quite clear that atrocities by the state against their internal or external enemies, whether they are classified as armed opposition groups or terrorists or whatever, actually make the situation worse - create more terrorists, armed opponents etc. For example when the terrible pictures of detainee abuse in Abu Ghraib were broadcast around the world, I wonder how many young muslim men and women joined the ranks of terrorist and other armed opposition groups in order to retaliate?

 I would also like to respond to point 3 in your list of issues in which you say 'training LEOs sometimes must be realistic not to touch on this issue, it is usually taken for granted as an out-of-discussion topic (this is a main stream universally)'.

I don't agree that this, or any issue,  should not be discussed on a training programme for police.  The question of unlawful state killings and torture must be addressed very seriously in human rights programmes otherwise participants may be left with the impression that there are some circumstances in which it is acceptable for serious crimes and human rights violations to be committed by the state. If they are left with that impression after a human rights programme then the training has been a complete waste of time.

Briefly, the points that need to be made on this matter on human rights programmes for police are that:

1 Torture is a very serious crime and is absolutely prohibited There are no circumstances whatsoever in which it should be practised. Those who commit torture should be prosecuted and severely punished.

2. The right to life is a non-derogable right, and unlawful killings by state officials should lead to the prosecution and punishment of the perpetrators for the crime of homicide.

3. In a state of emergency that threatens the life of the nation, there may be some derogations from some human rights. Typically this means, for example, that police and other security officials may be given wider powers of arrest and detention to deal with the threat.  But torture and unlawful killings remain prohibited absolutely.

4. Serious human rights violations like unlawful killings and torture do not contribute to state security, they detract from it. For example they make it more difficult to get intelligence from that part of the population from which members of terrorist or armed oppostion groups are recruited and they actually assist recruitment to those groups. 

5. Human rights violations by police or other security agencies are symptoms of a lack of professionalism and competence in those agencies. It means that they lack the necessary technical skills and resources to be able to deal with terrorist and other treats effectively.

Any suggestion from a human rights trainer that there are some circumstances in which police, or any other state official, may abuse their powers and violate human rights completely undermines the purposes of the human rights programme, undermines the protection of human rights generally, and undermines the rule of law in the country in which the training is taking place. In other words, as a training programme, it's been a disaster.





Sensitivity of Framing Training on Human Rights

Thanks Ralph..

You opened a delicate issue, and I don't think that what you said is far from what I said, let me clear that:


 Vague:when I said vague issue, I meant that it doesn't bear a clear cut control or norm to the limits of its meaning while we agree on the basics , still this issue is blurring between different ruling powers in every country, were priorities are interchangeable, so what is considered a state security matter during "A" administration might not be so in when "B" administration comes to power, that is  why we witness a massive change in the top security agents leadership usually taking place at the very early stage when new administration assumes office.

Also vague:Vague as the depth of this notion, even in very same time, is not identical amongst world countries, so we have very elastic concept even if it has its basics common.


When I said not to touch on this issue in training in human rights, I definitely didn't mean that I'm against it, on the contrary I'm fully supporting it as human rights advocate, and see that as a significant right to any people to discuss their inalienable right of determining their basic interests and concers.

But  I , being realistic and aware of the delicacy of how and where a particular issue can be raised, meant that human rights training program that is usually conducted in foreign countries have practical limitations, and if these programs are not perusing a touchy trajectory on some considerations , they will not meet a slight  chance to be conducted in some countries, and to be clear , it is not advisable to go to country "A" where the top power came to office by a military coup , and try to initiate a program on "people's right to choose their rulers" as such program will not have even slight chance to be hosted in this country.


I said realistic more than once, as some human rights institutes, driven by enthusiasm and western world stable practices of democratic life, may get trapped in elusive vision that all world communities are enjoying the same rights of freedom of speech and of the same distance to Internationally accepted standards of human rights,  and this is really misleading as they may design training schemes that is fully compatible with their norms, but wouldn't find a similar welcoming tones from some targeted countries (most probably totalitarian )>

So we are facing a dilemma;

  • We either stick to our internationally and democratically recognized standards and risk losing a chance to present the effect of human rights training in other deeply needed subject-such as torture  fighting to this country.
  • Or we reprioritize the rights -based topics to suit most the more -needed challenges in this particular country without having to go through this "problematic issue", and in such a case we will not waste an opportunity to support human rights cause in a yet needed area.

An example: 

To clarify my stand I would give an imaginary example, it is live and realistic but I wouldnt name a country, auppose that we have "A "country where the situation characterized by:

  • Totalitarian system (no democracy) .
  • law enforcement agent with high rates of human rights abuses because of lack of training and personal reasons.

In that situation it clear that if we target effective human rights training it is better to focus on LEOs situation as it would be the most effective line of training in this very particular example, it doesnt mean that others are not important but it means that training will be most effective when conducted in this very particular sphere. 


In my opinion, based on my practical observation in several occasions, Human Rights training for LEOs is not advisable to target some political issues- while drafting program curriculum for some foreign countries- as such a program can be easily interpreted as a call for revolution or viewed  as unwelcomed intervention into what is considered "Internal Affairs".

Based on that , it is better that we be wary to that fact: Challenges of training on human rights in a third world country is not identical to these existing in a western country setting that is what I meant by Realistic".

Finally I have a very fresh example, I was invited to give some lectures on Human Rights in Armed conflicts with one International Institute, the program was planned to take place in an African country in November, and everything was nicely arranged, and at the last moment a political stance occurred in that country towards the country to which the organizing institute belongs, and all of a sudden the program was delayed as the country didnt allow it at the last moment( remember that Im talking about a situation that happened to me recently, and through which a human rights program was cancelled because of something vey irrelevant to human rights cause itself) that is what I meant also when I said realistic , and considerate to this sensitive issues.   

RE: [New Tactics Dialogues: Training Law Enforcement for Prevent

Hi Ralph..
Again you said"
"Any suggestion from a human rights trainer that there are some circumstances
in which police, or any other state official, may abuse their powers and violate
human rights completely undermines the purposes of the human rights programme,
undermines the protection of human rights generally, and undermines the rule of
law in the country in which the training is taking place. In other words, as
a training programme, it's been a disaster". 

In that I totally agree with you, and it seems that I wasn't clear enough whille expressing my thoughts, nothing out of what I said can be interpreted as a support  to the idea that there may be a justfifcation under any circomstances for LEOs to commit human rights violatios, even while seeking state security concerns, as this can bevery destructive and will open the gate for limtless violations under the same title. 

Security security

Ralph Crawshaw

 Hello Ibrahim,

Thanks for the response and clarification. I agree that some subjects could not be included on human rights programmes for police in non-democratic countries. For example rights to representative government and so on.

However in the current climate states, including democratic states, are using the so-called 'war on terror' as an excuse to attack and diminish human rights. ''State security' is given as a reason for legislating against human rights and as an excuse for unlawful and brutal behaviour by police and other state officials.

 That is why I made the final point which you  agree with that teachers and trainers of human rights should be uncompomising in their defence.

Thanks for developing this interesting topic with me.

Human Rights Priorities and the need to change

Thanks Ralph
I'm glad that we reached a common sense in that topic, and I do agree that even in democratic states "state Security" concept was substituted with "War on Terror", and plays the same role of human rights suppression, it the historic contest between power and rights , and I admire the persistence of human rights organizations, that play a magnificent role in disclosing any suspicious attitudes coming from the power sources in the community. But on the other side of the issue , challenges of human rights are formidable worldwide, I'll give a single example that shed the light on one single cause, children, there are over 25.000 children die every morning because of lack of food deceases , and poor health care. Most of them, around 65% are in Africa continent. One another chocking fact to show the immense need for reprioritization of the way countries spend their money is the fact that 1.5 day expenditure of the Pentagon on military issues is sufficient to eliminate Malaria from Africa forever(some 1.5 Billion$ ).
So we do have a solid cause when we defend human rights and urge our countries to make the change. it is not that easy but for sure many positive moves have been achieved in this direction worldwide and the strife still needed to bring more and more positive steps. 

challenge - training and organizational structures

Walter Suntinger

 The following remarks are mainly based on my experience as an external human rights trainer/consultant within the Austrian police system. 

One of the main challenges that I see concern the appropriate integration of  (human rights) training within police organizational structures in order for it to be sustainable. 

 “Forget what you have learned in police school, what policing really is you will learn here”. This is a standard phrase that young recruits hear when they join the practical police work in Austria (and probably in most countries) 

This sentence expresses very well the very real dilemma; and I would like to raise the following points:

  • It is relevant to stress that there is a difference between theoretical knowledge (acquired in school and trainings) and practical knowledge (acquired in practical work). Practical knowledge is usually the more relevant one.

  • This is particularly pertinent also for human rights training content  as the normative human rights principles are often questioned by police practitioners as theoretical, going against practical considerations. ("we do not have time to think so much, we have to act on the spot").
  • Using sociological insight from the work of Pierre Bourdieu, it is also  relevant to remember that recruits have to cope with the particular behavioural/cognitive structures in the practical police field (having “magnetic force” on new members) and will have to adapt their "habitus" accordingly. This might mean that if a human rights approach/habitus has been acquired in police training it might lead to frictions with the more "classical habitus" of older colleagues without human rights trainings.
  • I have found the work of Chan “Fair Cop: learning the art of policing" very helpful in this regard ( for a book review see

These considerations should have consequences for the concrete training set-up which should be linked to organizational concerns with a view to creating an environment that is support of human rights (put differently: where a human rights habitus can be developed and maintained)

 In the Austrian police training context  we are currently considering the following points in order to make human rights training more sustainable:

  • Include within the initial training elements which make recruits aware of the forces of they will be exposed to when they the practical police field.
  • Make these mechanisms which might lead to a tensions with upholding human rights the object of systematic reflection in order to support a human rights habitus 
  • Strengthen the way police recruits are accompanied when entering the practical police work.


Lessons learnt re working on policing issues & useful resources

Over the years Amnesty International has built  up considerable experience in working with police officers and on human rights issues. Here are some of our main lessons learnt:

If you intend to work on policing issues, and maybe explore opportunities to engage with the police, it is critical to have a sound understanding of what policing is all about. We noticed all too often that there are misjudgments and stereotypical ideas about the police (and for the record, also within the police about human rights advocates). These are not helpful. For enhancing an understanding of policing Amnesty International's Dutch section published (in 2006) ' Understanding policing, a  resource for human rights advocates'. The book is available in Englsih, Russian, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese and Indonesian.  The full texts (including those of the translated versions) can be downloaded from our website at

A related lesson learnt is that work on policing should start with a thorough analysis of the situation  addressed. I know this sounds somewhat simple, but all too often we found that human rights groups, including ourselves!, unfortunately jump into working on policing without proper preparation. Related to this is that we learnt, that it is important to institutionalize work on policing and try to move beyond work that stems from personal relations and contacts with individual police officers. Though personal relations and 'one off'  event's like for example a lecture on human rights at the police academy, can certainly be a good starting point it is worth aiming to develop more long term relations, as well as a long term strategy specif\ying aims and objectives. Such a strategy turned out to be also helpful in preventing being used for internal police politics. A tool for making a contextual analysis as well as a tool for developing a strategy can both be found in Understanding Policing, as well as as a separate download on the website referred to above.

Finally we learnt about the importance of communication with the human rights community, as there may be (fellow) human rights NGOs raising their eyebrows when learning that one of them is considering engaging with the police. The key word is, as so often, transparency. By doing so one can explain what are the reasons for engaging with the police and what are the means adopted. Also, a joint strategy can be developed (jointly with the human rights community) where some NGOs engage whereas others keep more distance.

Elsewhere in this On line Dialogue  reference was made to the Council of Europe Police and Human Rights Program. A number of years ago there was an interesting initiative by this program in cooperation with police from around the Council of Europe, working together in what then was called the European Platform on Police and Human Rights (in which also Amnesty International then participated).  Though the platform no longer exists, it did publish a number of relevant publications. Worth mentioning in particular are " Police and NGOs, why they can and should work together"  and " Police have rights too!". The first gives a number of practical guidelines for both police and human rights advocates when considering engaging. The second proves to be a valuable tool to open the door towards police officers, for example in a training situations, as it clearly underlines that human rights are not just for ' them and not for us' but are in fact those rights to which every human being is entitled, including police officers. 

Unfortunately the publications  of the Council of Europe cannot (easily) be found on the internet. However, if you contact us we can arrange for you to get a copy (by e-mail), or we can provide New Tactics with the PDFs so that they can forward them.

On our wesbite many relevant links and resources can be found including a range of documents published by Amnesty International over the years that are useful  resource information for those stepping into the work on policing, including:

I hope these resources are useful. 

Anneke Osse

How to shape policing setting?

Thanks for your analysis, in fact you touched on an issue, that is more frequently faced nowadays, specially during post-civil war era, it is how to best formulate a policing setting, I have a realtively fresh experience, that goes back to my work with UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, 2001-2002, and here are some remarks:<br />
<li>During armed conflicts and civil wars, police usually becomes involved in the problem itself, so instead of being a support to keep security it becomes part of the chaotic situation.</li>
<li>In absence of strong civil society associations it quite difficult to bring police to community-based practices, as the authoritarian aspect of police becomes more obvious.</li>
<li>One of the most effective ways to expedite community recovery from chaos and rule of law collapse is to rebuild police institute strong and effective enough to pump stability and security into the community.</li>
<li>One of the most helpful lessons was the deep need to depoliticize police forces completely, it was disastrous to have police involved in the conflict and affiliated with one party against the other.</li>
<li>While framing Policing functionality, the civil community should be represent to reflect on the community-based interest of police work.</li>
<li>A huge step to depoliticize police was the creation of Police Commissioner to be the highest executive officer in the ministry of internal affairs, who is responsible for the overall executive and professional work of the police.</li>
<li>Through that project the minister of internal affairs was presented as a political figure responsible for the political aspect of police not the executive, and he more represents the ministry in the government and make sure of the full functionality of police as a whole without interfering at the executive  activities.</li>
<li>In re-framing police agency, many challenges are faced concerning :needed training, gender balance, ethnic balance(in areas where ethnicity plays a role), financial restraints(security is a very costly burden), and most importantly regaining the trust of a community and change the unpleasant image police took on during the troubled time.</li>
So the issue of setting police functionality with the necessary accountability- to-the community princible well establishd,  is a pre-requisite for community stability and development, that is why we witness that stable countries are usually those with a well -set law enforcement agencies and vice versa, in chaotic countries we see the LEOs are corrupt, bungling, aggressive, laymen..etc
Thanks again for raising this issue.
Ibrahim<br />


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