We, the participants to the NGO Forum in the 50th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and 24th African Human Rights Book Fair held from 19th – 21st October, 2011 in Banjul, The Gambia
Being aware that a police that uphold the principles of Rule of Law is essential in the maintenance and enforcement of law and order and the promotion of citizen safety in a manner compliant with the rights enshrined in the African Charter in articles 1 ,5 and 6;
Concerned that the recent past has witnessed numerous examples, across the continent, of a police that disregard the rule of law and act outside of agreed standards of human rights and Codes of Conduct. This includes failure to protect citizens, harassment, inappropriate use of force by the police, lack of accountability, extrajudicial killing and summary executions, arbitrary and illegal arrest and torture and inappropriate police responses to the public order and policing of assemblies;
Recognising that policing in Africa is often characterised by the post conflict history of the Continent is often impeded by limited budgets, lack of training, poor equipment, poor working conditions, disregard of police officers human rights, corruption, poor strategic planning in criminal justice and antiquated laws;
Recognising the growing demands placed on police by national and transnational crime threats and migration will place increasing pressure on policing and that meaningful dialogue between civil society and the police can generate important knowledge exchanges;
Noting the outcome of recent continental and international discussions on security sector reform that there is a need to use regional and continental mechanisms to encourage and support countries to undertake sustainable security sector reform;
Acknowledging the important work being done at the SADC, ECOWAS and EAC to promote human rights and policing through mechanism like Codes of Conduct and Common Standards of Policing.
Acknowledging human rights is a critical facet of security sector reform and that the ACHPR as an independent continental organisation is in a unique position to champion an African dialogue on policing and human rights;
Recognising, the need for relevant actors such as states, regional and continental mechanisms like the ACHPR, National Human Rights Intuitions national police agencies and civil society to work closely together to promote policing compliant with human rights standards.
We urge the African Commission to:
- Establish a focal point responsible for policing and human rights within the African Commission and ensure policing is a specific and consistent theme of State reports and country visits. Such a focal point will include representation from the police, the state and civil society.
- Support the facilitation of regional conferences on policing and human rights to build towards a continental conference on Policing and Human Rights.
Done in Banjul – 21st October, 2011