Monday, February 16, 2009

Police Refrom in South Asia

FNF South Asia > South Asian Dialogue > Recent events
Police Reform in Pakistan A law on police reform was not put into place by successive Pakistani governments. Why not put it into practice now with a newly and democratically elected government? a participant asked at the consultation Police Reform in Pakistan, which was facilitated by I. A. Rehmann, Director of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, and Sanjay Patil from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Pakistan stands at a crossroads on a number of issues, including policing. An effective counter-insurgency strategy cannot be implemented without an efficient and trusted police force.
Compared to its neighbours, Pakistan is one step ahead. Typically South Asia nations either have an outdated police law in place or no law at all. For instance, Maldives has no police legislation to speak of. In addition, India and Bangladesh continue to retain the antiquated Police Act (1861) that is a legacy of British India. While Sri Lanka started the process of police reform in 2001 by amending its Constitution, Pakistan was the first country in South Asia to initiate legislative reform on the issue of policing when the National Reconstruction Bureau prepared a draft law to reorganise the police in 2001.

From force to public service

The Police Order (2002) ultimately came into force on August 14, 2002. Originally, the spirit behind the reforms initiative was to transform the police from a ?force? into a ?public service?.
However, the Police Order (2002) was significantly curtailed in its intended scope by amendments that were subsequently introduced between 2004 and 2007. While the original 2002 Order was aimed at depoliticising the functioning of police throughout Pakistan ? a vital element to ensure democratic policing - the subsequent amendments appear to have defeated the very purpose of reforms. For example, the amendments stipulated that of 6 elected members of the Provincial Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission, 4 would be from the Treasury and 2 from the Opposition. In contrast to the original 3-3 split envisioned by the 2002 Order, this amendment tilts the balance in favour of the ruling regime.

Steps ahead

The consultation in Lahore, which brought together key policy and decision-makers from federal and provincial level, focused on steps ahead. Tariq Khosa, Director General of the National Police Bureau, who led the discussion through the day, summarized that it is necessary to establish internal and external accountability mechanisms, to involve the community, improve methods of police investigation and link promotion to training and capacity building. He endorsed the recommendations of the recent report from the International Crisis Group on reforming Pakistan`s Police.


Police Reform in South Asia

International Crisis Group Report: Reforming Pakistan's Police

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