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South Asia

Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka make up Commonwealth South Asia. Across the region, issues around policing and importantly police reform are key human rights concerns, as well as governance priorities. Policing in this particular region contends with heterogeneous societies, violent crime, protracted conflict, poverty, and political unrest. The police must be equipped to meet these myriad challenges in support of democratic norms and human rights.

Unfortunately, the post-independence histories of the countries of South Asia paint a grim picture of the state of policing. The British colonial government, with the sole intention to keep its subjects under control, introduced the formal, state-administered system of policing to the region. The beginnings of policing in the region were based purely on the compulsions of imperialism. Alarmingly, across the region, neither the advent of independence or democracy has changed the policing model. Towards their own ends and most importantly to maintain rule, post independent governments have retained archaic policing laws that perpetuate the ills of colonial policing. Illegitimate political interference in policing is endemic across the region and has shaped subservient, partisan, and unaccountable policing in South Asia. By controlling powers to transfer, promote or punish police officers, ruling regimes ensure that officers toe their line. Undeniably, police in the region are entirely dwarfed and most often controlled by the executive.

All of the countries of Commonwealth South Asia have initiated efforts toward police reform, some led by international donor agencies and others by national governments. In this way, the region offers varied examples of policing problems as well as insights into police reform. But it is very much a case of two steps forward, and another step back, as good laws are repealed, or important accountability mechanisms diluted or rendered ineffective in implementation. Political resistance continues to strangle policing.

Objective

The aim of CHRI's programme in South Asia is to develop an increased demand for and achievement of police accountability and reform.

Network for Improved Policing in South Asia (NIPSA)

NIPSA was born out of the consultations held at the Regional Roundtable in New Delhi on November 1st, 2009. It was jointly decided by CHRI and Freidrich Neumann Foundation (FNF) that the Regional Roundtable would be a good opportunity to assess interest in the idea of a network. During the conference, a consensus emerged amongst the participants that since experiences on police reform in the region are often similar, NIPSA would be a useful means for civil society organisations to share knowledge in this regard. The focus in 2010 will be to ensure that the NIPSA website is a useful and comprehensive resource for members and the public to rely on for information pertaining to policing in South Asia. This effort is being complemented by the monthly issuance of a NIPSA e-newsletter that will solicit NIPSA members from around the region to contribute written pieces on a relevant/pressing issue pertaining to the police. NIPSA has produced several newsletters so far, with articles from all parts of the region relating to policing and has received the active support of its 20+ members. Further, NIPSA now has its own website to serve as a centralised hangar for its activities. Click here to view the website at: www.nipsa.in

Activities / Conferences

March 2007, New Delhi: CHRI convened a regional roundtable conference on South Asian policing in New Delhi, India. Fifty representatives attended the conference from countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. Delegates hailed from across government, civil society, media, human rights institutions and police organizations and met to discuss and debate the trends, commonalities and challenges of policing in South Asia. Click here for more information and background documentation relating to the roundtable.

July 2008 and November 2008, Pakistan: CHRI conducted two consultations in Pakistan, one with the Consumer Rights Commission of Pakistan (CRCP) in Islamabad (July 2008) and one with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in Lahore (November 2008). The purpose of these consultations was to examine the current state and pace of police reforms across the country and gain insight into the strength of the institutions created under the 2002 Police Order and subsequent amendments. Click here to view reports from these consultations. Islamabad, Lahore.

November 2009, New Delhi: CHRI concluded a 2 day conference entitled “Police Reform In South Asia- Role of Civil Society”. The result of this conference was the creation of a regional network of like minded civil society organisations involved in the field of Police Reform. This network has been entitled NIPSA- The Network for Improved Policing in South Asia. The Network was created with the view to strengthen our efforts in initiating police reform throughout the region and do it in a symbiotic manner. Click here to read a report on the Regional Roundtable.

May 2010, Pakistan: CHRI in association with SHEHRI CBE of Karachi, launched 101 things you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask,’ the event was organised by Shehri Citizens for a Better Environment. Click here to read more about the release.

CHRI in association with Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) released a publication entitled “Police Organisations in Pakistan”. This was followed by an interactive session about Police Reforms, organised by HRCP. Participants at the session exchanged information with CHRI representatives about the police situation in India, and also highlighted police issues in Pakistan. Click here to read a report.

May 2010 - Book Launch of Police Organizations in Pakistan: During the early months of 2010, CHRI worked in close consultation with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) based in Lahore in conducting research and finalizing the publication titled Police Organizations in Pakistan. The purpose of this publication is to serve as a resource for people to better understand the roles and responsibilities of the police and to offer practical benefit for people in their interaction with the police. In order to publicize the report, CHRI organized a book launch in Lahore in collaboration with HRCP on 14 May 2010. The release was followed by an interactive session with the participants where they exchanged information with CHRI representatives about police reforms in India. This report, as part of NIPSA’s effort to engage in cross-jurisdictional collaborations throughout South Asia to raise awareness on policing issues, has been well received by policing officials in Pakistan and civil society. With this consultation, the working partnership between CHRI and the HRCP has been strengthened further.

May 2010 - Launch of 101 Things you wanted to know about the Police but were too afraid to ask in Urdu, Karachi: In order to carry forward the work of spreading awareness about policing in Pakistan and to enable an easy understanding of policing issues, CHRI compiled the 101 Questions you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask pertaining to police organization in Pakistan in collaboration with SHEHRI Citizens for a Better Environment, an NGO based in Karachi. To allow for greater dissemination and utility of the publication, the 101 questions has been compiled both in English and Urdu. CHRI organized the launch of the publication in association with SHEHRI in Karachi in May 2010.

July 2010 - Online Conference on Community Policing: In order to showcase the research undertaken by CHRI on community policing across the region, CHRI organized its first properly conducted FNF supported online conference in South Asia. The conference titled “Building Bridges: The Police and the People – Experiments with Community Policing in South Asia was held from 5-10 July 2010. The objective of the conference was two fold: one to highlight the knowledge and experiences with community policing across the region in order to facilitate exchange of information and learning on ways to improve such efforts; and second, to popularize NIPSA as an important resource tool for policing issues in the region. As such, the conference was billed as a ‘NIPSA’ event although the task of moderating the discussion rested with CHRI in its capacity as Secretariat of NIPSA was the moderator. The conference was divided into three thematic sessions: first one focused on the relevance of community policing for South Asia; the second session focused on the various experiments with community policing that have taken place in South Asia; and the third session examined an international success story regarding community policing (Toronto, Canada).

The conference brought together key resource persons (including serving officials) from across the region, but particularly from India and Pakistan. Its success was marked not only by the fact that it was able to get more than 70 participants registered but also that it was able to sustain an active discussion through the five days. Keeping in mind the cost benefits of holding a online conference, the success of this model can now pave way for more regular discussions among professionals in the region.

July 2010 - Book Launch of “Fuluhunnai Behey 101 Suvaalaai Javaab” (101 Things you wanted to know about the Police) in Dhivehi and Workshop on “Police Reforms in the Maldives: Obstacles, Strategies and Way Forward”: In order to promote better understanding of policing issues in the Maldives, CHRI has been working closely with the Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) and the Human Rights Commission of Maldives (HRCM). Along with MDN, CHRI oversaw the compilation of 101 Questions suited for Maldivian law in Dhivehi. The 101 questions titled “Fuluhunnai Behey 101 Suvaalaai Javaab” was launched in Male on 13 July 2010 at the headquarters of HRCM. Immediately after the launch, CHRI led two days of training/capacity building of civil society members and staff of independent bodies in the Maldives. The objective of the training was to educate Maldivians more on what democratic policing means and how it can apply in the Maldivian context. CHRI’s experience with these two days of training was very positive. Those that attended were very keen to learn about the MPS and how they can improve their performance. On the whole people are happy with the evolution of the MPS since 2004 (when they were first started), but there was widespread acknowledgment that they could be better. Participants were grateful to learn more about the PIC’s work and the PIC was happy to educate those in attendance about the constraints it has experienced

August 2010 - Book Launch of “Police Sampark 101 Prashna Uttar” (101 Things You Wanted to Know about the Police): Police Sampark 101 serves as a reference guide on the powers of police and rights of citizens vis-à-vis the police. The objective of the book launch was to release the book and garner wide publicity. The book launch also sought to raise the profile of CHRI and its partners, BLAST and Nagorik Uddyog, on police reforms in Bangladesh and highlight the work we are doing. The chief guest was Barrister Shafique Ahmad, the Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs. The other guests included Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, and Nurul Huda, former Inspector General of Police who also spoke at the launch. The launch received a phenomenal response both in terms of participation (170 attendees despite heavy rains) and richness of discussion. The 101 was hailed as a landmark work to push forward police reforms. The event received very wide media coverage as well.

August 2010 - Workshop on “Our Rights and Role of Police in a Democratic Society”: The objective of the training workshop was to raise awareness and build capacity of the civil society on the rights of citizens vis-à-vis the police and to understand the fundamental aspects of democratic policing as it is applicable in the Bangladesh context. The workshop also sought to facilitate interaction among people dealing with the police regularly to enable a more holistic understanding of policing. The foundations of what better policing should look like in the form of democratic policing was laid out in the first session of day 1. Subsequently, the second half of Day 1 and the entire Day 2 focused on legal training on the rights of citizens vis-à-vis the police. The training was conducted around five issues: procedure for filing of FIR, powers of search and arrest, custodial rights, bail conditions, and domestic violence. There were over 30 participants and because many were grassroots activists, the training was conducted mostly in Bangla. Ms Abha Joshi worked in tangent with the resource persons (Bangladeshi lawyers and advocates) identified for each session who would translate for her. Overall, debate was dominated among participants who were lawyers, gradually many activists and civil society organizations got equally involved. Each organization brought to the table its unique experience with the police that greatly enriched the discussion.

November 2010 - South Asia Visiting programme II: The Second South Asia Visiting Programme was held from 24-30 October 2010 in New Delhi designed to educate professionals from the region on police reform initiatives in India. This was done through meetings and discussions with key professionals in New Delhi and Cochin, Kerala. Meetings and interactions were scheduled, each with its own predetermined focus, and overall, the program did well in achieving these objectives. Through this programme, it is intended that professionals would return to their home jurisdictions with valuable information on how to improve police reforms in their countries. It was also aimed at strengthening NIPSA in general, and it did this with great effect. For more information on the visiting programme, click here.

Publications

Feudal Forces: Democratic Nations – Police Accountability in Commonwealth South Asia. In 2008 CHRI closely examined the status of police reforms in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and published its findings in Feudal Forces: Reform Delayed – From Force to Service in South Asian Policing. Click here for an electronic version of Feudal Forces 2008. Click here for an electronic version of Feudal Forces 2010.

Police Organisations in Pakistan, in association with HRCP. Written by Asad Jamal (Lawyer, High Court, Lahore). The purpose of this publication is two-fold, first, to serve as a resource for people to better understand the roles and responsibilities of the police and secondly, to offer practical benefit for people in their interactions with the police. Click here for an electronic version of Police Organisations in Pakistan.

101 things you wanted to know about the police but were too afraid to ask.
Pakistan - in association with SHEHRI CBE.
Bangladesh - in association with Nagorik Udyog and BLAST.
Maldives - in association with MDN.
The Indian version can be found here.

Upcoming Publications

Current Affairs

Click here to read the latest current affairs.

Press Statements / Releases

 

CHRI Update on Sri Lanka - 1 November 2007.

CHRI Update on Sri Lanka - 1 November 2007.

Spotlight thrown on policing in South Asia - 23 March 2007.

Consultations on the Draft Punjab Police Act 2010 - 13 February 2010.

CHRI calls for enlightened police leadership in Pakistan - 13 May 2010.

CHRI- SHEHRI Launch of 101- questions - 14 May 2010.

Launching Ceremony of “Police organisations in Pakistan” - 15 May 2010

South Asia Policing Law

Policing in Conflict: Towards Better Policing in Pakistan

Police Order 2002 - Pakistan

Maldives Police Act 2008

Draft Police Ordinance - Bangladesh 2007

Draft Punjab police Act 2010

Critiques

DPPA

Bangladesh Police Ordinance 2007

NIPSA Newsletters

January 2011

December 2010

November 2010

October 2010

September 2010

August 2010

July 2010

June 2010

May 2010

April 2010

March 2010

February 2010

December 2009

October 2009

Contact

Devyani Srivastava, Consultant - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +91 11 43180208

Sumant Balakrishnan, Consultant - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or +91 11 43180209