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Terrorism, Policing and Human Rights


In many countries of the Commonwealth, counter-terrorism measures are reshaping civilian policing in violation of fundamental human rights and posing a serious challenge to meaningful democratic police reform. This is happening in a number of ways - significantly through the enactment of laws that include vague definitions of terrorism which allow for the laws to be broadly applied and extend police powers to arbitrarily stop and search, use unreasonable and excessive force, arrest without warrant, preventively detain, detain suspects for long-periods without charge and limit fundamental due process rights. Counter-terrorism policing in many countries is undermining already struggling police oversight and accountability instruments designed to safeguard against police abuse. This is happening with anti-terrorism responses that: give police increased immunity from prosecution, see police forces joining with unregulated security bodies (such as military and intelligence forces), the integration of national and foreign security actors, and the scope for unreported secret police operations under new laws.

Stamping Out Rights: The impact of anti-terrorism laws on policing

CHRI's 2007 Report Stamping out Rights: The impact of anti-terrorism laws on policing, looks at the impact of anti-terrorism legislation on policing in the Commonwealth. The report examines:

  • new counter-terrorism legislation and measures that have been adopted in the Commonwealth;
  • how these measures are impacting policing on the ground;
  • the compatibility of legislation and policing practices at international law;
  • how anti-terrorism policing measures are impacting on police oversight and accountability mechanisms; and
  • offers recommendations to Commonwealth heads of government, member states, heads of police, civil society and donors.

Click here to download an electronic copy of Stamping Out Rights. Click here to request a hardcopy.

Click here to download an electronic copy of the executive summary of Stamping Out Rights. Click here to request a hardcopy of the executive summary.

Commonwealth Anti-Terrorism and Policing Country Reports

Background country reports focusing on anti-terrorism legislation and policing in specific jurisdictions can be accessed by clicking below.

These country reports are current as of 1 March 2007. For further specific country information, go to the Commonwealth police news updates (with links to current policing news throughout the Commonwealth) or specific country pages.

  1. Australia
  2. Antigua & Barbuda
  3. Bangladesh
  4. Bahamas
  5. Barbados
  6. Belize
  7. Botswana
  8. Cameroon
  9. Canada
  10. Fiji Islands
  11. India
  12. Kenya
  13. Kiribati
  14. Maldives
  15. Papua New Guinea
  16. Samoa
  17. Solomon Islands
  18. South Africa
  19. Srilanka
  20. Tanzania
  21. Trinidad & Tobago
  22. United Kingdom
  23. Vanuatu

Contact us

For more information, please contact Louise Edwards (Police Reform Programme (International) at or Iniyan Ilango (Human Rights Advocacy) at

CHRI material on counter-terrorism, policing and human rights

  1. Findings and Recommendations of CHRI's Report on the impact of Counter-Terrorism on Policing by Arnaud Chaltin, Consultant, CHRI.
  2. Respecting democracy and human rights while legislating counter-terrorism by Arnaud Chaltin, Consultant, CHRI.
  3. Counter terrorism or Justification of Torture by Arnaud Chaltin, Consultant, CHRI.
  4. Theme paper on counter-terrorism and police accountability, 11-13 June 2007, Nairobi.
  5. CHRI submission to the International Commission of Jurists, February 2007.
    1. UN Counter-terrorism Committee
    2. A Reflection on Real Security for Uganda
    3. ICJ Press Release
  6. The need to reconcile security and human rights.
  7. Anti-terrorism, the legislation and human rights: a comparative analysis of the Commonwealth Model Law.
  8. Submissions to the Review Committee on Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000 (India).
  9. Anti-terror legislation in the Commonwealth 2004 (update)
  10. Human rights and anti-terror legislation in the Commonwealth 2003
  11. Human rights and anti-terrorism legislation in the Commonwealth conference 2003
  12. Submission of CHRI to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) 2003
  13. Terrorist talk? The right to freedom of expression in the ‘war on terror’ - Media release from the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, World Press Freedom Day, Thursday 3 May 2007.
  14. Security at what price?Counter Terrorism Committee to present assessments of counter terrorism measures taken by member states to UN Security Council - Media release from CHRI, May 2007.
  15. Commonwealth PoliceWatch EMAG, Vol. 9 November 2007.

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