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Volume 13 Number 1
New Delhi, Spring 2006
Newsletter   

Launch of CHRIís 2005 CHOGM Report on Police Accountability

Daniel Woods
Consultant, Access to Justice Programme, CHRI

CHRIís 2005 CHOGM report, Police Accountability: Too Important to Neglect, Too Urgent to Delay, our human rights spotlight on policing, has been officially released across the Commonwealth. Leading up to the November CHOGM in Malta, CHRI hosted two regional launches and one international launch.

International

The international launch, preceded by the two regional launches, was held on 22 November 2005, in Malta, just prior to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). Hon. Dr Tonio Borg, Deputy Prime Minister of Malta and Minister of Justice and Home Affairs, launched the report and drew on his experience as a human rights lawyer in his highly praised speech that emphasised the need for democratic and accountable policing. The event was attended by the Commissioner of Police of Malta and by the media and got extensive coverage on a main local TV station that evening on the news. It was also highlighted in print and electronic media in Malta and across the Commonwealth. In addition to talk of this report, police reforms in general was a topic of discussion around CHOGM - civil society voices, including the collective voices of the Commonwealth Human Rights Forum and the Commonwealth Peopleís Forum, called for the creation of an Expert Group to look at policing in the Commonwealth.


From left: Andrew Galea Debono, Hon. Dr Tonio Borg, Maja Daruwala, Sam Okudzeto

Africa

The first regional launch of the report was held in Accra, Ghana, on 13 October 2005. Betty Mould-Iddrisu, Director of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Division, Commonwealth Secretariat, and Sam Okudzeto, Chair of CHRIís International Advisory Commission, hosted the launch. It was timed to take place immediately prior to CHRIís conference on Police Accountability on 14-15 October, and the Commonwealth Law Ministers Meeting in Accra later in October. Delegates of the Police Accountability conference traveled from across Africa, South Asia, Australia and the UK to attend the conference and support the launch of the report. In their concluding statement, conference participants echoed the central arguments of the report, recognising that the heart of police reform is the development and strengthening of mechanisms to keep police accountable. They also expressed support for the recommendations outlined in the report, of how to bring about police reform in the Commonwealth.


Maja Daruwala

South Asia

The South Asia launch took place in New Delhi, India, on 5 November 2005. I.K. Gujral, former Prime Minister of India, introduced the report to an audience of police, media representatives and civil society. The launch was widely reported in the media and was particularly timely as the government formed a Police Act Drafting Committee in September to assess making changes to Indiaís outdated Police Act of 1861. This has raised heated debate about police reform in government and civil society circles, making the report very relevant to an Indian audience. Following this launch, Mr Gujral drafted a letter on the importance of police reform, which was co-signed by former PM VP Singh and circulated at a CHRI roundtable conference on police reforms, as well as at a meeting of the National Advisory Group on Police Reform.


From left: G.P. Joshi, Devika Prasad, I.K. Gujral, B.G. Verghese

 
CHRI Newsletter, Spring 2006


Editors: Mary Rendell & Clare Doube , CHRI;
Layout:
Print: Chenthil Paramasivam ,
Web Developer: Swayam Mohanty, CHRI.
Acknowledgement: Many thanks to all contributors

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The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) is an independent international NGO mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the Commonwealth.