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Regional Standards

Africa

The African Charter on Human and People's Rights, or Banjul Charter, was adopted by the members of the former Organisation of African Unity - OAU (now the African Union) in 1981. It is the youngest of the regional mechanisms and also the most widely accepted of the regional charters, with 53 ratifications or accessions. All African members of the Commonwealth are part of the regional Charter.

The African Commission on Human and People's Rights is the institution created under the Charter to promote and protect human rights in the African context and interpret the Banjul Charter when required by the states or institutions of the African Union. The Commission has procedures in place to receive complaints from states and individuals.

The African Court on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) was established in 1998 by a protocol (Protocol to the African Charter on Human And Peoples' Rights on the Establishment of an African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights). The Protocol establishing the ACHPR entered into force on January 1, 2004 upon its ratification by fifteen member states. However, the statute of the ACHPR has not yet been promulgated and a seat for the court has yet to be determined. Therefore much of the data regarding its functioning is not yet available. If would like to know more, click here.

The Committees of Chiefs of Police in Africa work to strengthen cooperation among member countries in all aspects of operational policing.

The Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) aims to foster cooperation among police in the region, and to broadly consider regional criminal justice issues.

Caribbean (including Canada)

Organisation of American States (OAS)

The American Convention on Human Rights was adopted by the members of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in 1969. This Convention strengthens regional human rights systems by making the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights more effective and creating the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights examines petitions filed by individuals who claim the violation of a protected right and may recommend measures to be carried out by the state to remedy the violation. If the country involved has accepted the Inter-American Court's jurisdiction, the Commission may submit the case to the Court for a binding decision.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is an autonomous judicial institution. Its purpose is the application and interpretation of the American Convention on Human Rights.

Not all American states have ratified the American Convention on Human Rights. In the Caribbean, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and Jamaica have ratified or acceded to the convention. Trinidad and Tobago denounced it in a communication addressed to the General Secretary of the OAS in 1998. Of the Commonwealth member states in the Caribbean, only Barbados has accepted the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court on Human Rights without reservation (Trinidad has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court but has denounced it).


Caribbean Community (CARICOM)

In the Charter of Civil Society for the Caribbean Community, adopted in February 1997, the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) commit themselves to respect and strengthen the fundamental elements of civil society.

There have been initiatives in Caribbean countries to establish National Crime Commissions. For example, in St Lucia a National Crime Commission was launched in February 2003 to form civic partnerships with the police and to increase police accountability.

A number of proposals have been put forward to CARICOM Heads of Governments that could result in a Caribbean Policing model, which would serve as the basis for policing in the region. One such proposal is for the establishment of National Crime Commissions on each island. The National Crime Commission in St Lucia, if successful, could serve as a model for these Crime Commissions.

In July 2001 CARICOM agreed to establish a Regional Task Force on Crime and Security, to examine major causes of crime, and to recommend approaches to deal with the inter-related problems of crime, illicit drugs and firearms, as well as terrorism. The Task Force comprises representatives from each of the Member States, the Regional Security System (RSS), Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police, the University of the West Indies (UWI), and the Regional Secretariats (CARICOM and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)).

Europe

The European Union's activities are based on the main international and regional instruments for the protection of human rights, including the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and Nine Protocols.

In 1979 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed Resolution 609 on the Declaration on the Police. The resolution sets out guidelines concerning the professional ethics of police. The resolution takes into account principles of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Council of Europe considers that the criminal justice system plays a key role in safeguarding the rule of law and that the police have an essential role within that system. It acknowledges the need to establish common European principles and guidelines for the overall objectives, performance and accountability of the police to safeguard security and individual's rights. It recommends that member states be guided by the principles set out in the European Code of Police Actions, adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 1 September 2001.

Another important document is the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which was officially proclaimed at the Nice Summit in December 2000. The charter makes the overriding importance and relevance of fundamental rights more visible to the European Union's citizens by codifying material from various sources, such as the European Convention on Human Rights, common constitutional traditions, and international instruments.

The European Court of Human Rights is an international institution based in Strasbourg, which in certain circumstances can examine complaints by people claiming that their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have been infringed. This Convention is an international treaty by which a large number of European States have agreed to secure certain fundamental rights. The rights guaranteed are set out in the Convention itself, and also in a number of protocols (which only some of member States have accepted).

The Council for Police Matters (PC-PM) is an advisory body to the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDCP). The PC-PM's terms of reference set out the following tasks:

  • to follow the development of European police systems (national and international);
  • to assist the CDPC in reviewing the implementation of Recommendation Rec (2001)10 on the European Code of Police Ethics and other relevant instruments of the Council of Europe;
  • to prepare, at the request of the Committee of Ministers or the CDPC, draft legal instruments and reports on police matters on the basis of ad hoc terms of reference;
  • to formulate opinions at the request of the CDPC;
  • to prepare conferences and high-level meetings on police matters;
  • to collect and disseminate documentation on police matters; and
  • to promote research on police matters.


The Pacific

The Pacific does not have regional standards that speak directly to police accountability. However, a regional organisation called the Pacific Islands Forum, that seeks to enhance cooperation between member states (which are almost all Commonwealth member states), has produced Forum declarations to strengthen regional governance and security, carrying implications for policing.

The Honiara Declaration (1992) provides a regional framework for cooperative law enforcement, particularly to tackle transnational crime.

The Aitutaki Declaration (1997) recognises the internal factors that drive conflict and supports regional security.

The Biketawa Declaration (2000) is more proactive as it lays out practical methods to coordinate regional responses during security crises. For example, this could involve deploying multinational police contingents, as in the Solomon Islands. The deployment of multinational police contingents is increasingly becoming a trend across the region.

The Nasonini Declaration on Regional Security (2002) promotes a regional response to counter terrorism.

 

 
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