The police and human rights

Subject: Law
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Word count: 1361
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The missions under which police officers globally operate are simple and clear. They are meant to enhance the safety of citizens and the relevant nation’s property at all times, to enhance laws and order where interactions are taking place, and to reduce the incidence and fear of crime. This being their mission, the police officers are commanded to strictly prioritize the actions that promote the above roles without compromising any of them. The situation becomes tricky when the law enforcers are dealing with the same citizens that they are meant to protect. It appears to be complicated but certainly worthy of consideration, to evaluate a scenario, where there is a conflict between the police and citizens in a particular nation. Many citizens have suffered a violation of their rights on the basis of a police officer performing their duties to fulfill the missions highlighted.

To begin with, the duties of a police officer are clear, maintaining law and order. This simply implies that if anyone is against law and order, they have to face the police officers while performing their duties. To an officer, the safety of citizens in a particular nation comes first and should be enforced regardless of whose life or health is at stake. This appears to be the reason they walk around armed with weapons, which are best at defending the citizens. According to the missions of a police officer, if the members of the nation they belong to approach members of another nation to undertake activities that will help them in improving one another, peace and order should be maintained in favor of the citizens that come from the same country as the officers (Perez, & Barkhurst, 2012). This means that in the case of violence, the officers will mainly attack the foreigners to protect their citizens from harm. This act will be supported by the mission statement, which authorizes police officers to act in favor of public safety while working with diverse communities. A second scenario is when the situation of enhancing safety takes place within the nation and between members of the same nation. Whenever there is a public disorder, and the law is not enforced, there has to be two groups of people. The first group is the group of lawbreakers, commonly referred to as the enemy in such a situation, and the second group is that of innocent victimized citizens. In such a case, the mission of a police officer is to maintain law and order bearing in mind that they are protecting each citizen from harm. However, they have to settle on lawbreakers in order to solve the situation. Therefore, the officers are most likely to attack the same citizens they are meant to protect in order to fulfill their missions in maintaining safety. Many of these scenarios are mainly experienced during industrial actions and conflicts between one individual or group of citizens and another (Great Britain, 2011). These are the cases where the fact that the police officer protects all citizens is overlooked to lay emphasis on the harmless and victimized citizen. For instance, in an industrial action, citizens demonstrating with violence endanger the lives of other citizens in the same nation, who are harmlessly running their endeavors. Violence is also likely to damage national and public property depending on the level it extends to. This is precisely an action against the peace, order, and safety. As a competent police officer, there are concrete reasons for one to intervene and maintain act according to their missions. Therefore, officers will be expected to respond to the demonstrating citizens in order to provide their needed attention to the victimized citizens and property (Friedl, 2010). However, as they perform these missions, the police officers are expected to maintain ultimately high integrity and ethical conduct. This is for the sake of earning themselves public confidence, as the public has to trust them with the security and protection they need.

As much as the police officers’ missions are this clear, there have been several controversies and misuse cases of the missions in relation to human rights. In many nations, the missions of the police have been viewed as police powers and used to exploit the public instead of serving the citizens. Apart from this, there have also been empty claims of a fulfillment of public rights against the police officers. Many of these claims are termed as empty because the context of the claim is not factual enough to attain a ruling against police officers performing their duties (Tadsad & Ramaswamy, 2012). For instance, in the above situation of demonstrating citizens, the violence between the police and citizens should be triggered only if the demonstrators indicate violence. Otherwise, citizens have a right to peaceful demonstrations. Many take advantage of this right and begin to demonstrate violently, then, file a claim against law enforcers for attacking them and denying them the right. A case where the demonstrators are armed with stones and objects that could create harm also allows a police officer to fire rounds either towards the crowd or in the air for their own protection, depending on the active constitutional laws. However, other serious claims have been filed indicating the poor level of integrity existing in the police services. These cases involve violation of human rights during the performance of police duties. Many complaints are based on racism during detention, rude treatments during arrest, incidents of false arrest, and systematic discrimination (Crawshaw et al., 2008). In a case of racial detentions, many people run to the police officers while unsafe, but they are not rescued, simply because they are of a race that the police officer is not ‘comfortable’ with. In this case, the police officer has neither performed their mission nor respected the rights of the citizen involved. In other racial scenarios, the police officers perform their duties but violate the rights of the citizens involved. An example of such a case, is where there appears a rival against two groups of different races or tribes, and the police officers settle the disorder by attacking one group in favor of the other one based on racism or tribalism. This mostly happens when the majority of government leaders belong to a particular tribe or race. It is against the rights of a citizen to rule or act against them on the grounds of their race. Another common claim is where the police officers are rude or hostile while implementing detention (Crawshaw, 2008). Since police officers are permitted to deal with criminals using different methods that could include lethal responses, hostile responses meant to overcome the aggression of criminals are a common occurrence. However, there are different types of criminals, and not all are aggressive. Additionally, during many stages of detention, every victim is a suspect until proven guilty or innocent. Therefore, unless they have triggered violence, it is against human rights for the police officers to treat them with hostility. False arrest and systematic discriminations were cases of both violation of citizen rights and disrespect of the missions that govern the services of a police officer. The constitutional law requires that a police officer observes the human rights of citizens in their operations to maintain order (Uildriks & Tello, 2012). As such, the police strive to maintain the balance between observation of rights and enforcing law and order.

It is true that police officers have missions that cannot be accomplished if they do not attain the trust and power from the public. However, the misuse of power has led to a conflicting relationship between the missions of the police officers and human rights enforced by active constitutions globally. The missions of a police officer include enforcement of the law to maintain peace and order. The decisions they make should be based on protection of personal freedom and not discriminative exploitation. The frequent cases of misuse of police powers to violate human rights indicate the fact that a relationship between police missions and human rights should be globally elaborated. In spite of such cases, the police strive to maintain a crucial balance between individual rights and enforcement of the law.

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  1. Crawshaw, R., Holmström, L. & Human Rights Information Centre. (2008). Essential Texts on Human Rights for the Police: A Compilation of International Instruments. Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
  2. Crawshaw, R. (2008). Police and Human Rights: A Manual for Teachers, Resource Persons and Participants in Human Rights Programmes. Leiden: Brill.
  3. Friedl, I. (2010). Consolidating peace overseas? The European Union’s Missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo. München: GRIN Verlag GmbH.
  4. Great Britain (2011). The EU’s Afghan Police Mission: Report with Evidence. London: TSO.
  5. Perez, D. W. & Barkhurst, M. (2012). Paradoxes of Leadership in Police Management. Clifton Park: Delmar, Cengage Learning.
  6. Tadsad, K. G. & Ramaswamy, H. (2012). Human Rights and Police Administration. New Delhi: Concept Pub. Co.
  7. Uildriks, N. A. & Tello, P. N. E. (2012). Mexico’s Unrule of Law: Implementing Human Rights in Police and Judicial Reform under Democratization. Lanham: Lexington Books.
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