Police Reforms in Pakistan
- Police law i.e. Police Act of 1861 was enacted in the backdrop of the War of Independence of 1857 by the British rulers
- The Indians across the ethnic and religious divide had risen against the foreign rule with a ferocity that frightened them. Police was therefore designed to maintain order in the society. Any element of service was incidental
- The system served the empire well and saw it through two world wars
Post Independence Status
- Unfortunately the successive governments in Pakistan military as well as the political found this repressive system very useful and adopted it without change
- The structure was helpful in repressing political dissent and perpetuation of their rule
- There was however a realization to reform the system but it never went beyond setting up commissions, committees and engaging experts who submitted twenty five reports that remained unimplemented.
Present Police Reforms
- In 2000 the government of General Pervaz Musharaf initiated the devolution plan and also promised to depoliticize the state institutions.
- As a part of the devolution plan action on restructuring and reforming the police was taken.
- After extensive consultation with all the stake holders a report was produced by NRB that was followed by an enactment– Police Order 2002
- Ironically it was a military ruler who gave for the first time a people friendly law to the country
- Role of police was changed from regulation & enforcement to service
Insulation from extraneous interference
- Oversight by a system of Public Safety Commissions at all levels of government by civil society
- Operational and administrative autonomy to police forces (Combination of authority and responsibility)
- Credible system of accountability ( Oversight and Independent PCAs )
- It was expected that the new law will be owned by police , bureaucracy, politicians and the civil society
- We will have a people friendly police that will be subject to civil oversight and strict accountability.
- There will be no political interference in the functioning of police
Police will only follow the law
Slide 7Our Goal and Vision
- We were inspired by Sir Robert Mark (1970), Police Commissioner of London Metropolitan Police who whilst claiming the support of "a long tradition of Constitutional freedom from Political interference"
said:"The police are not servant of a government at any level. We do not act at the behest of a minister or any political party, not even the party in government. We act on behalf of the people as a whole."
Disappointments Role of Key Players
- When it came to implementation all the key players got together to destroy this law for their own reasons
- The key players were the politicians, bureaucracy and the police leadership
- Politicians were unable to accept the idea of an independent police that will follow the law and not their whimsical and motivated orders
- Bureaucracy wanted to regain the control of police through the secretariat and all powerful DM
- Police leadership was averse to the concept of oversight by civil society and strict accountability.
Amendments of 2004
- A few examples of the amendments in Police Order 2002 will help in understanding the mindset of these players.
- Nominations of members of the National and Provincial to the District Public Safety Commissions (DPSC) by the CM
- Merging of Police Complaint Authority with Provincial Public Safety Commission (PPSC)
- Restructuring the membership of the PPSC
- Diluting the authority of the Police Command
Slide 10 & 11
Some of the Mischievous Amendments
- 2 (v)"Direct" means a written order or instruction to a Police Officer issued by an authority empowered to direct under this Order and such directing authority shall be deemed to be an officer authorized under clause (2) of Article 155.
- (vii-a) "Ex-officio Secretary" means Provincial Police Officer who shall exercise administrative and financial powers of the Secretary to the Provincial Government with total autonomy in operational, administrative and financial matters subject to the policy, oversight and guidance given by the Chief Minister through the Chief Secretary and the Provincial Home Department.
- 15 "(3) Under exceptional circumstances due to exigency of service or on grounds of misconduct and inefficiency which warrant major penalty under the relevant rules, the City Police Officer or District Police Officer may be transferred, with the approval of the Government, before completion of the term of office.".
Read with 2 (vii) b ( Definition of exigency )
This definition keeps the door wide open for premature transfer of officers who may be too professional or neutral in performance of their duties that may not be acceptable. It also blurs the line between the transfer for misconduct and honorable behavior
- Original Provision regarding powers of the Provincial Public Safety Commission---- 80(b) "take steps to prevent the police from carrying out any unlawful or malafide orders or directions from any authority to any functionary of the police through-out the Province and in case such orders are brought to the notice of the commission it shall have the powers to intervene and its decision shall prevail;" and
Amended Provision (b) take steps to prevent the Police from engaging in any unlawful activity arising out of compliance with unlawful or mala fide orders;
- Original Provision for the functions of Provincial Police Complaint Authority under article 106 (C) "receive from the District Public Safety Commission or Head of District Police any report of death, rape or serious injury to any person in police custody and take steps to preserve evidence relating to such incident and request the Chief Justice of the High Court under intimation to the Government to appoint a Judge not below the District and Sessions Judge for a judicial enquiry;--"
This provision was simply dropped while combining the PPSC with the Police Complaint Authority
- Police Order has been totally mutilated with amendments in the law that hits at the very basic concepts of the original enactment
- Even this amended law is not being implemented
- Changes are being introduced in police structure in violation of law
- It is a miracle that we still have a law that contains some provisions of the original Police Order 2002
- There is now talk of doing away with the entire devolution plan and the police reforms
A Few Glaring Examples
- Traffic wardens in Punjab
- Law and order duties to DCOs in NWFP
- Appointments of officers of lower rank to the higher positions by the GOP and Provinces
- Induction of members of National Assembly in the Promotion Selection Board of PSP
- Public Safety Commissions non-functional
- No Policing Plan by the Police
- Investigation placed under SHO
- No annual reports by the commissions and PPO
- No instructions on code of conduct or other regulatory powers of police
- All stake holders must resist the amendments in the law that are against public interest
- Funding by Asian Development Bank to be linked to the actual delivery on ground on the reforms. Access to justice program of ADM has failed to do that.
- NGOs and civil society that has failed to understand the implication of these reforms need to be sensitized and involved in understanding the Police Reforms and its implementation on ground