4 months ago


Policing and the

Policing and the European Convention on Human Rights Page 21 governmental responses. 35 In its work, the CPT has also developed codes of standards which it employs during visits to help assess existing practices and to encourage states to meet its criteria of acceptable arrangements and conditions. These emerging standards are for the most part more detailed and more demanding than those found in other international obligations, and are now having some impact through the implementation of recommendations for the introduction of legislative, administrative and organisational reforms at domestic level; they address such matters as the use of electrical discharge weapons, investigations into allegations of ill-treatment, deportation of foreign nationals by air and detention by law enforcement agencies. 36 Key extracts from CPT standards appear in the Appendix A, below. Conclusion The increasing expectations placed upon police officers are directly prompted by heightened expectations on the part of members of the community that policing will reflect certain fundamental values and respect certain key principles. Such values and principles are contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. While diversity in national police arrangements and in domestic criminal justice systems is respected, the growing sense of minimum European expectations in the delivery of policing need not be seen as a threat to the police service; rather, the discharge of a human rights-compliant approach to policing will help maintain productive police-community relationships. There is a risk that the notion of ‘human rights’ can be perceived of as a ‘charter for the criminal’ and a negation of the rights of the victims of crime, but such is to ignore the important developments in human rights jurisprudence from the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. The notion of positive obligations, for example, places heightened responsibilities upon the police to protect victims from exploitation; the increased intolerance of ill-treatment by police officers and the greater readiness to label certain ill-treatment as ‘torture’ also promotes both professionalism and an understanding of the importance of the rule of law within the police service. 35 With the exception, to date, of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation (the recent authorisation to publish the report and response on the visit to the North Caucasus in April/ May 2011 hopefully will result in further reports being placed in the public domain). In certain circumstances, the Committee may also issue a public statement on conditions in any particular country, a power exercised on two occasions in respect of Turkey, on three occasions in respect of the Russian Federation and, most recently, in respect of Greece. Reports (and further information on the CPT) are available at 36 ‘CPT Standards’, CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1 - Rev. 2011.

The European Convention on Human Rights and Policing Page 22 Introduction Chapter 2 The use of force in policing ‘The best possible guarantee against ill-treatment is for its use to be unequivocally rejected by police officers themselves.’ 37 The use of force poses significant challenges for police services and for individual police officers. Police services must ensure that police officers have the training and equipment to allow them to discharge their onerous tasks effectively. In addition, Governments must ensure that the legal framework governing the use of force by police officers is sufficiently clear, in order to protect both the public and police officers. Accountability mechanisms, with sufficient resources and powers to make them effective, must be in place. Police officers must be able to have confidence that they will be supported when they act properly, and that they will be guaranteed a fair procedure in any investigation into allegations of improper use of force by them. The case law of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as reports of bodies such as the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, demonstrate that the problem of excessive and unjustified use of force by police and other law enforcement agencies throughout Europe is a chronic one. 37 Report to the Government of Montenegro on the visit to Montenegro carried out by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) from 15 to 22 September 2008 CPT/Inf (2010) 3 at paragraph 16.