How are international human rights standards relevant to the work of the police? How can these standards be translated into the development of skills, policies and practical behaviour and taught to law enforcement officials? This manual from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) should be used by police educators to train law enforcement officials.
A framework is provided for the practical organisation and execution of human rights training for the police, including teaching, evaluation and assessment techniques. The substantive human rights issues that law enforcement officers must learn and apply are covered, with corresponding objectives, essential principles and exercises to cement learning. Areas covered include fundamental human rights concepts, police duties and functions, groups requiring special treatment and matters of command and management.
The training approach is comprehensive and designed to meet the practical needs of police and sensitise them to their own potential for rights-violative behaviour.
- Trainers must be selected according to their expertise, credibility and ability to adopt the training methodology.
- Training participants include civil and military national police and civilian police components of United Nations peacekeeping operations.
- Participants should be categorised by hierarchy and function to ensure training is appropriately delivered.
- Training must satisfy the needs of participants to receive information and develop knowledge, to acquire or reinforce skills and to become sensitised.
- A participatory training method, which is interactive, flexible, relevant and varied, is advocated. Participatory techniques include presentation, discussion, working groups, brainstorming, role-play and field trips.
- The training venue should be separate from the normal work environment and physically comfortable. Trainers must plan for the needs of participants, including refreshments.
Training starts with the fundamental concepts of human rights. This includes the United Nations’ rights framework, instruments and monitoring mechanisms, which emphasise the legal basis for human rights and ethical policing. The police are required to be accountable to the public through democratic political institutions. Non-discrimination is essential for human rights protection and effective policing. Practical guidance is provided on other essential concepts, including:
- In police investigations all accused are entitled to the presumption of innocence, a fair trial and respect for their dignity, privacy and honour.
- To arrest someone deprives them of their liberty. Individual liberty is a core root principle in human rights. Arrest is therefore serious and must only be conducted legally and out of necessity.
- Police authority to use force and firearms is matched by a great responsibility. Force may only be employed as a last resort, where strictly necessary and proportionally as required to perform police duty.
- Armed conflicts, states of emergency and civil disorder all threaten human rights. The status of rights varies in these conditions and police must understand their own complex rights, duties and responsibilities.
- Juveniles, women, refugees and victims all require special protection or treatment from the police. Training participants are encouraged to explore the particular needs of vulnerable groups and how to respond to them.
- Senior law enforcement officials must consider the implications of international standards in matters of command, management and organisation, including investigating police violations.