APCOF was established in 2004 as a coalition of police oversight bodies and practitioners and was registered in 2006 as a not-for-profit company under South African Company Law. In 2012 APCOF was reregistered as a Trust. APCOF is in a unique position in the policing and police oversight field. Trustees and Advisory Board members form a network of expertise bringing together leading practitioners to promote a continental agenda and facilitate shared learning and experiences.

History and Achievements

APCOF’s recent achievements include:

  • 2017: Technical support to and the adoption by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights of Principles for the Decriminalisation of Petty Offences in Africa.
  • 2017: Development and production of toolkit on implementation of Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Official in Africa for the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).
  • 2016: Technical support to and the adoption by the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights of Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies by Law Enforcement Official in Africa.
  • 2016: Technical support to and the Adoption by the East African Police Commissioners Cooperation Organisation (EAPPCCO) of a regional Standard Operating Procedure on Public Order Policing.
  • 2016: Production of toolkit on implementation of Guidelines on Arrest, Conditions of Police Custody and Pre-trial Detention, The Luanda Guidelines for the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).
  • 2015: Successful advocacy to expand the mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights, Special Rapporteur on Prisons and Conditions of Detention to include Policing.
  • 2015: Co publication of a bi-annual newsletter on Policing and Human Rights in Africa.
  • 2015: Provision of technical support to operationalization of the Sierra Leone Independent Police Complaints Board.
  • 2015: Publication and Launch of Police and Human Rights Training Manual for the East Africa Community (EAC) and the East Africa Police Commissioners Cooperation Committee (EAPCCO).
  • 2014: The adoption of Guidelines on Arrest, Conditions of Police Custody and Pre-trial Detention, The Luanda Guidelines by the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).
  • 2013: Establishing a Police and Human Rights Focal point at the African Commission for Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR).
  • 2013: Development and presentation of an annual advanced human rights course for the Centre of Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.
  • 2013: Development seminar for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum on police oversight and the role of parliamentarians.
  • 2012: Acceptance by the East African Community (EAC) of police Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) in the EAC on: Arrest and Detention, Stop and Search, Use of Force, and Public Order Management.
  • 2011: Development of training material on investigator skills for independent police oversight mechanisms and provision of training support to various entities including the Kenyan Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) and South African Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
  • 2010: Development of monitoring indicators for the Southern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization Code of Conduct for Police Officials and an assessment of the application of the Police Code of Conduct in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
  • 2009: Approval by EAC Ministers of Security, and East African Police Chiefs Cooperation (EAPCCO) of Common Standards for Policing in East African Community.
  • 2008: A continental audit of police oversight in Africa.
  • 2006 The adoption of a resolution at the ACHPR on the importance of external police oversight in the promotion and protection of human rights.

APCOF trustees are Professor Elrena van der Spuy, Centre of Criminology, Faculty of Law, University of Cape 
Town, South Africa, Tommy Tshabalala, Former Head of Investigations, Independent Complaints Directorate, South Africa and Prof Monique Marks of the Durban University of Technology.

The trustees who are responsible are responsible for the administrative, financial and content integrity of the organization are supported by an Advisory board responsible for strategic direction.

The advisory board members are:

  • Florence Simbiri-Jaoko, Former Chairperson, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Kenya.
  • Prof Etannibi Alemika, Chair of Criminology, Department of Sociology, University of Jos, Nigeria.
  • Edith Kibalama, Executive Director, East Africa Centre for Constitutional Development, Uganda.
  • Innocent Chukwuma, Former Executive Director, Cleen – Center for Law Enforcement Education Network) and regional representative of the Ford Foundation, West Africa, Nigeria.
  • Ababacar Ndiaye, Project Officer, Senegalese Commission on Human Rights, Senegal.
  • Amir Suliman, Director, African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies, Uganda.
  • Amina Bouayach, Former President, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights and vice president of FIDH.
  • Adv Macharia Njeru, Chair Kenyan Independent Police Complaints Authority.
  • George Monyoncho, Vice Chair Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, Kenya.
  • Justice Adekeye, Commissioner, Nigeria Police Service Commission.
  • Prince Ibe , Secretary Nigeria Police Service Commission, Nigeria.
  • Ms Kemi Asiwaju, Former Executive Director Cleen Foundation Nigeria.
  • Mr Val Collier, Chair Sierra Leone Independent Police Complaints Board.
  • Moses Dlamini, Independent Police Investigative Directorate, South Africa.
  • Mathews Sesoko, Independent Police Investigative Directorate, 
South Africa.
Organisation Strategy

APCOF has developed a theory of change to promote police accountability through the achievement of three interrelated immediate outcomes.

These “intermediate outcomes” which are the focus of APCOF’s work are: increased political support for police accountability; improved capacity for oversight; and the development of a community of practitioners promoting accountability.

Democratic governance and the rule of law are the outcome of inherently political processes, and so too is the enterprise of promoting accountable policing. APCOF’s “theory of change” recognizes that policing in Africa will not become more amenable to accountability without the explicit support and promotion of those who have political power. Decision makers need to accept police accountability as not only a normative requirement of the broader policing reform project, but an essential component to police effectiveness and efficiency. APCOF acknowledges in its approach that the work of police accountability cannot be limited to the more comfortable realm of training, capacity building, and technical support but that efforts have to extend to influence the various spaces in which political power is held and exercised. This may include state and non-state spaces, as well as national, regional and continental contexts. Critically, the notion of political support must also extend to police agencies themselves whose support and cooperation has been highlighted as a central element to ensuring effective oversight of the police.

Further, it is clear that many of the actors involved in police accountability work may experience capacity constraints that may limit their ability to contribute effectively to accountability efforts. Capacity constraints range from limitations in information, to the absence of tools for assessment, to weaknesses in technical capacity and skills.

This aspect of APCOF’s work utilizes the general framework offered by Stone and Ward, and addresses its capacity-building efforts to all three levels identified state civilian oversight, internal police controls and civil society.

There is no question for APCOF that a strong group of individuals with passion for and commitment to police accountability is central to promoting stronger accountability and oversight on the continent. Knowledgeable state and non-state actors equipped with the capacity and tools to promote increased accountability, particularly at national and more local levels, can contribute to this agenda in the following ways:

  • Undertake ongoing research and gather evidence as to the status and nature of police accountability in countries and regions.
  • Advocacy activities intended to influence national and regional political processes.
  • Exposing abuse, actively supporting investigations and enquiries, and disseminating the results.

APCOF’s operational model is also centered on networking. APCOF operates with a small staff  and seeks to undertake its operations utilizing a range of relationships and partnerships across the continent. This approach allows for APCOF to benefit from local knowledge and expertise, as well as to contribute to local capacity building, where this is relevant. This model allows for organizational overheads to remain low at the center, and for greater investment in resources in the development of activities.


Sean Tait – Director
Sean Tait is the founder and Director of APCOF. He holds an Honours degree in Criminology from the University of Cape Town. He is the former Director of the Criminal Justice Initiative at the Open Society Foundation for South Africa, and the former Executive Director of non-governmental organisation UMAC. His areas of expertise include policing, police accountability, crime prevention, and peace building.

Louise Edwards – Programme Manager
Louise Edwards (B.A. (Arabic), L.L.B, L.L.M (International Law)) and has spent the past 10 years working on police accountability across Africa. Her focus has included the provision of technical legal assistance to organs of the African Union, Regional Economic Communities and national stakeholders in the drafting and implementation of regional legal standards for rights-based policing. This includes leading the drafting of the Guidelines on the Conditions of Arrest, Police Custody and Pre-Trial Detention in Africa (ACHPR, 2014), the Guidelines on the Policing of Assemblies in Africa (ACHPR, 2017), and the Common Standards for Policing in East Africa (EAC/EAPCCO, 2010). Prior to this, Louise was a lawyer in private practice (Allens) and in the community legal sector.

Helene van der Watt – Office Manager
Helene holds a project management certificate from the University of Cape Town and has more than 20 years’ experience in the field of Administration, Grants and Program management. Prior to joining APCOF she worked as the Program and Grants Administrator for the Open Society Foundation of South Africa.

Dr Simon Howell – Research Director
Dr Simon Howell is the Research Director at APCOF. He has published a number of articles and research reports on the subjects of policing, governance, and security in both the academic literature and in conjunction with state and non-state organizations. He has further contributed to numerous advisory groups, policy panels, and specific working groups.

Chumile Sali – Project Officer
Chumile Sali is a human rights activist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Chumile is currently working as a Project Officer for African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF). Chumile previously worked with the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) serving as the Head of Safety and Justice Programme and a Campaigns Manager. Chumile holds a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree from the University of the Western Cape and a Certificate in Basics of Total Quality Management from the University of South Africa. Chumile previously worked as a Senior Advisor – Procurement Quality Assurance for Sebata Engineering and TUV Nord Sourthern Africa. In 2011, Chumile served as the General Secretary of Harare Community Police Forum in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

  • African Security Sector Network
  • Danish Institute for Human Rights
  • DFID through Igarape Institute
  • European Union
  • GIZ
  • Government of Finland
  • IDRC
  • IDRC through Igarape Institute
  • Open Society Foundation for South Africa
  • Open Society Foundations Africa Regional Director
  • Open Society Foundations Institute
  • Open Society Initiative for East Africa
  • Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa
  • Open Society Institute for West Africa
  • Raoul Wallenberg Institute
  • UNDP