The Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and APCOF are supporting the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to strengthen observance of human rights with a particular focus on human rights defenders. In 2016, DIHR and APCOF will provide technical assistance to the ACHPR’s Special Rapporteur for Human Rights Defenders (SR HRDs) and Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Access to Information (SR FoE) in relation to policing and freedom of expression and assembly through implementation of ACHPR Resolution 281 on the Right to Peaceful Demonstrations (2014).
The police have an important role in ensuring the peaceful conduct of protests and thereby the protection of human rights defenders and freedom of expression. Through a combination of factors such as domestic legal frameworks that do not uphold the fundamental human rights of freedom of assembly and expression, lack of the proper tools, training and oversight, the police are often among the violators of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. This is a concern shared by the ACHPR, who recognised in Resolution 281 that human rights abuses, such as arbitrary arrests, excessive use of force, and sexual violence against female protestors, restricts the fundamental right to freedom of assembly and expression.
The project to support a rights based African approach to policing assemblies responds to these challenges while directly addressing the overall objective of the ACHPR to promote respect and observance of human rights by African States, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and the protection of human rights defenders.
The project includes the development of tools to strengthen the ACHPR’s promotion and their protection mandates, while also providing insights necessary for the police to improve their responses to public order management.
Specifically APCOF and DIHR will be:
- Undertaking baseline studies.
- Developing guidelines and tools on policing assemblies.
- Conducting training for the police and other relevant stakeholders including civil society.
The challenges to security in Southern Africa are significant. Rapid urbanisation, accompanied by high levels of unemployment, profound income inequality, systemic corruption and poor health and educational outcomes are among the drivers for high levels of insecurity. To address these challenges requires broad, holistic responses beyond just criminal justice solutions. Success in promoting such approaches to safety requires community ownership and a multi-sectorial, holistic approach to dealing with the conditions that give rise to very high levels of crime and violence.
Over the past five years, important initiatives have been underway in Southern Africa, and specifically South Africa, Namibia and Mozambique, as well as further afield in Kenya, where local authorities and social and criminal justice agencies have worked with local communities to develop and implement evidence based safety strategies. Many local communities in Namibia, Mozambique and South Africa now have detailed safety audits which have been used to develop broad safety plans and have established multi-sector safety committees at local level to support implementation. The knowledge developed through these approaches has been used to develop and inform academic courses, and the training of officials and community based organisations.
In 2016, APCOF will work on a project to consolidate the important learnings from these processes, both nationally and across the Southern African region. Specifically, APCOF will seek to variously demonstrate, replicate and scale-up the effectiveness of balanced, multi-sectorial interventions in targeted communities to reduce violence, promote safety and social cohesion.
The Project will:
- Work with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat and the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation to use the learnings of interventions such as the Crime and Violence Prevention Initiative to develop guidelines and tools on crime and violence prevention, anchored to SADC Strategic Indicative Plan and its impending review. The tools envisaged will include:
- Methodologies for conducting safety audits.
- Tools for developing Community Safety Plans.
- Tools for Monitoring and Evaluation, and measuring impact.
- Facilitate regional dialogues on lessons and practice in crime and violence prevention in Southern Africa. The dialogues will also be used as opportunities engage in the development of indicators for safety in terms of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Develop and host a web interface, which will house the developed tools, publications, and relevant and useful information, while providing for on-going exchange of expertise.
APCOF has been collaborating with the East African Police Chiefs Cooperation Committee (EAPCCO) to develop a EAPCCO Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) on public order management. This initiative updates and extends the current East African Community (EAC) SOP to include the non-EAC countries of Sudan, Southern Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Comoros and Seychelles.
The process was provided for in a resolution taken at the EAPCCO AGM held on 17 -20 August and which called on the EAPCCO Legal Sub Committee to:
- Develop a standard rights based approach to public order policing among EAPCCO countries.
- Present the legal input to the Training Sub-committee SOP at the next EAPCCO Organs meeting.
- Develop, in collaboration with APCOF, a training manual for Public Order Management for general implementation by EAPCCO member countries.
At a meeting of the Legal Sub-committee of EAPCCO, held in Nairobi on 28 October 2015, an SOP on public order management was developed for submission to the Training Sub-committee at a EAPCCO Organs meeting to be held in 2016.
This project focuses on strengthening current legal provisions on the use of force by South African police officials by focusing on compliance with the rule of law, the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and international law. The project has advocacy, research and legal reform components.
APCOF is working with civil society and national human rights institution networks to identify the key challenges to the realisation of a rights-based approach to pre-trial detention, develop training and advocacy materials that will seek to address these challenges in a practical way, and promote the adoption of a resolution on good practice pre-trial detention with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).
As part of its work, APCOF draws on the existing international standards and treaties that govern pre-trial detention, and builds on the existing work in promoting reform of pre-trial detention and networks of diverse experience in a number of relative disciplines, including police reform, criminology, law reform, access to justice, anti-corruption/governance and public health. The project provides technical capacity to national oversight mechanisms to strengthen public scrutiny and accountability of the institutions responsible for arrest and detention.
The project recognises that uses and conditions pre-trial detention that do not accord with the relevant international standards and treaties governing are symptomatic of a greater challenges within a criminal justice system and its associated institutions. Accordingly, the project’s objectives and activities are developed with the aim of linking with, and informing, broader programmes of work to reform key criminal justice institutions (including government departments, courts, judges, police and prisons) and promoting outcomes that will strengthen states’ adherence to the rule of law, access to justice, public health and the prevention of torture.
APCOF has received support from multiple donors to support the implementation of the recently adopted Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa (the Luanda Guidelines).
- The provision of technical assistance to the ACHPR for the development of implementation tools such as reporting templates, training manuals and model policies and procedures.
- Engagement with regional professional bodies to promote use and visibility of the guidelines; national interventions in South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Tanzania, Ghana, Malawi, and Côte d’Ivoire to promote mainstreaming of the Guidelines in domestic laws, policies and practices.
- Research, training, and advocacy initiatives.
In partnership with the Pan-African Lawyers Union, the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative, and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre, and the Centre for Education, Advice, and Assistance, APCOF is working to promote the declassification and decriminalisation of petty offences.
The project aims to reduce arbitrary and discriminatory arrests, which disproportionately impact the poor and which overburden already strained criminal justice systems.
APCOF ‘s role is to conduct advocacy at the African Commission for Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to promote the decriminalisation of petty offences by States, through the adoption by the ACHPR of a set of guiding principles to guide states in reviewing laws that criminalise petty offences. The principles which are based on the African Charter, the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa and the Ouagadougou Declaration seek to ensure that the human rights of marginalised groups are not violated. In addition they advocate for the efficient use of Government resources through ensuring that the criminal justice is not used to address socio-economic problems.
APCOF, in partnership with the Igarapé Institute (Brazil), is piloting the Smart Policing Project. The initiative harnesses the potential of smartphones used by police and other public safety personnel together with an open source Android application to promote accountable, proactive and safer law enforcement in low and middle income settings. The application allows for real time recording and streaming of video and audio content to a server, and analytics interface software monitored by senior officers. The Smart Policing Project’s main objectives are to increase oversight over users of the application; enhance police-community relations; and reduce the incidence of excessive use of force by officers against citizens. The application is currently being piloted by the Western cape Provincial Traffic Department and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department among others.
APCOF undertakes a range of activities aimed as strengthening police oversight and accountability in South Africa. This includes efforts to support civilian oversight institutions, civil society, and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to promote the agenda of a democratic and accountable police in South Africa. APCOF has also maintained an interest in ensuring that the institutions responsible for the provision of private security also act within the bounds of the law, and are equally held accountable for their actions.
Recent developments in South Africa in the area of policing, most notably the tragic events in Marikana in August 2012, have raised critical questions about a range of fundamental issues on policing including the effectiveness of policing policy, policing leadership and current oversight infrastructure. APCOF’s ongoing work in South Africa seeks to contribute knowledge (through undertaking research), and advocating for change through its networks and partnerships.
APCOF, in partnership with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria provides a post-graduate short course on Police Oversight and Accountability in Africa. The aim of the course is to profile police accountability and oversight as a human rights and governance concern, and assist in building a community of practitioners on the continent who can become active advocates for increased accountability of the police, and who are skilled to identify and act in terms of overseeing the actions of the police.
The one-week intensive course is taught at the Centre for Human Rights (located in the Faculty of Law) on the main campus of the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa. Lecturers are recognised experts in the field and at the completion of the course participants:
- Know the origins and evolution of international human rights standards for policing, and police accountability;
- Understand the systems and theories of police oversight, both at the continental and the international levels;
- Have a critical understanding of internal and external oversight mechanisms;
- Are aware of the challenges and opportunities presented by police accountability and oversight at the continental level;
- Understand the legal, policy, administrative, and practical frameworks and challenges of key accountability concerns, including:
- Policing and discrimination
- Use of force and public order policing
- Police corruption; and
- Torture and custody visits.
APCOF is working with the Pan African Parliament (PAP) to provide technical support to the Committee on Human Rights and Justice in the development of a Model Police Law for Africa. Model legislation is an effective way to promote legislative reform and/or review of existing legislation governing the mandate, organisational structure, and performance of law enforcement agencies across the AU Member States. Efforts by the Pan African Parliament in this area will complement existing police reform initiatives undertaken by the AU and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘ACHPR’). The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, for example, encourages States to take legislative, administrative, policy and practical measures to give effect to the provisions of the normative framework, and to promote a framework for national security that supports conditions which are favourable to peace and development, as well as security sector reform efforts at the sub-regional level by Regional Economic Communities (‘RECs’).
Joint research by APCOF and CSPRI in recent years investigated the structural and functional challenges of the two primary law enforcement oversight agencies, being the Judicial Inspectorate for Correctional Services (JICS) and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) within the broader rubric of challenges in ensuring effective accountability for rights violations allegedly committed by police and correctional services officials. This second phase of the project address some of the capacity deficits identified through a peer learning process between IPID, JICS, The portfolio committees on police and corrections and key UK oversight agencies, namely the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales, the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman and the Attorney General.
This three-year project will support the establishment of a regularised system of independent police custody visits in South Africa. Despite a relatively robust system of oversight, there is currently no regular system or process for the independent monitoring of places of detention under the management of the South African Police Services (SAPS). The result is that there is little reliable information on the use and conditions of police custody in South Africa including data (disaggregated on age or gender or otherwise) on the number of persons held in police custody, or the average length of time spent by persons in police custody or the extent to which procedural and conditional safeguards are upheld, is available. APCOF will support key stakeholders in the design, piloting and role