From November 18 - 24, 2009 we had the unique opportunity to host an the on-line dialogue featuring Training Law Enforcement for Prevention of Ill-Treatment and Torture. The dialogue featured law enforcement professionals, torture prevention organizations and torture treatment and rehabilitation programs from around the world sharing effective ways of bridging the challenges law enforcement face and citizens they serve (click here for more biographical information on these featured resource practitioners). Read the summary of this week-long exchange below.
Image: The image (right) is from the Police Training Tactical Notebook and captures two police officers in Thailand conducting a role-play in front of their colleagues at a Training of Trainers.
Summary of dialogue
Click here to download the 65-page pdf version of this dialogue [1,124KB]
The New Tactics on-line dialogue “Training Law Enforcement for Prevention of Ill-Treatment and Torture” examined the various aspects of training methodologies and its significance to help upgrade and develop law enforcement officer’s capacities to better perform their role in preventing or at least diminishing torture occurrences. The dialogue adopted five main themes that embodied the most relevant issues relating training with both law enforcement and torture prevention, under each theme the dialogue was open for comments from eight featured law enforcement experts and six non-governmental organizations who represent different fields of expertise concerning the issue at hand. It was also open for the New Tactics general community and public interested in the topic to participate with their comments and ask questions about one or more of the themes pursued in the dialogue.
Theme 1: Law Enforcement Training Components:
This major theme area of law enforcement training components was a pressing topic to share questions, ideas, stories and experiences regarding law enforcement training components, such as: Materials and Knowledge content, Hands-on, Practical content, Rule of Law and Universal Integration. Throughout the dialogue duration these issues were covered:
- Good investigative techniques can reduce torture cases.
- The role of managerial level within the police to help limit malpractices.
- How the public need for quick responses towards crimes committed can affect police performance.
- Community policing can provide the means for addressing community demands for speedy action.
- The importance of depoliticizing police to guarantee their serious devotion to the community.
- Police training should encompass professional and human rights aspects, soft skills and legal knowledge and include civilian staff trainers.
- Human rights advocates are maybe most efficient when they help police trainers in improving their training, rather than perform as trainers themselves.
- Structural changes within the police is crutially needed with Training to have substantial impact upon police performance.
Theme 2: Accountability and Impact:
In this theme the dialogue explored aspects of accountability and how training can and does impact the official mechanisms of accountability and how law enforcement trainings address the role of official mechanisms of accountability; and the often raised dilemma of “security versus human rights”. In this context there were several inputs regarding the following issues:
- Greater publicity can improve the conditions under which policing and security work occurs.
- Effective police accountability should involve internal as well as external actors.
- Using videos of officers on trial for human rights violations in order to dissuade others from misconduct.
- Involving the community in understanding the roles of the police and having an investment in their police services.
- Using civil lawsuits to obtain reparation for survivors of human rights abuses and to challenge the impunity of their abusers.
Theme 3: Challenges of Access, Credibility, Contradictions and Structures:
In the area of challenges, ideas covered were related to how human rights professionals can gain access to law enforcement structures and trainees and what makes human rights professionals credible in the eyes of law enforcement when they provide training. In that context the following topics were covered:
- Real and useful access may happen where there are truly motivated officers and structures for reforms concerning policing and human rights.
- Support of human rights issues can be a mixture of external and internal pressure.
- Incentives can be very useful for police officers to respect human rights.
- The need to inform LEOs that violators of human rights will not be supported by their superiors when they become disclosed.
- State security (war against terrorism) is a concept that can entail human rights abuses in many countries worldwide.
- It is critical to have a sound understanding of what policing is all about.
Theme 4: Concerns of Law Enforcement Officers Themselves:
This theme focused on concerns of law enforcement officers themselves, taking in account their rights, and how are concerns and rights of individual law enforcement officers regarding such areas as pay, time-off, working conditions, equipment, disciplinary actions and grievance procedures, etc., addressed in trainings. The following issues were discussed:
- Training can explore the ethical structure of law enforcement practice.
- Addressing traumatic stress and burnout issues.
- Law enforcement officers’ entitlement to get fully paid holidays and vacations.
- The effect of over work and poor conditions on LEOs attitudes and performance.
- The need to be training new police officers in healthy coping and positive resilience.
- Importance of the human rights of police to promote well being and reinforce a culture supportive of human rights within police agencies.
Theme 5: Stories of Impact and Effectiveness
In this theme the dialogue shared stories, questions, ideas, and experiences regarding impact and effectiveness of human rights training and education initiatives to make a difference and what was useful in helping to identify impact and effectiveness, and mentioning stories of success in preventing ill-treatment and torture. In this respect several ideas were presented:
- The significance of trying to measure the impact of training on LEOs.
- Human Rights training can be more effective when conducted within a decision-making level of officials.
- Successful tactic was encouraging LEOs to learn by teaching.
- Media is effective in supporting training in human rights.
- The definition of torture, Torture and ill treatment are not the same.
- Government obligations to protect its citizens and/or those in its borders.
Useful resource links related to the themes discussed:
- Video: Community Oriented Policing in Bangladesh implemented by The Asia Foundation
- Article: The Human Rights of Police Under the International System for the Protection of Human Rights
- Police Tactics as Protests: Monitoring how well police comply with training In Australia
- Difficulties faced when activists use the courts to pursue their legal rights under civil law
- Discussion Tools: A police and human rights trainer's manual: 15 ideas to encourage police officers
- Government-imposed restrictions on access by journalists and humanitarian workers:
- Article: Australia's Papua stance not helping Indonesian democrats
- Press Statement of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms Hina Jilani, concluding her visit to Indonesia
- Article: Indonesia: Violence and Political Impasse in Papua
- Learning the art of policing: