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“The Police and Human Rights”: A Seminar on teaching human rights in Internal Affairs educational institutes

Olga Goncharova

On 24 June 2006 the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research and the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG) held a seminar on teaching about human rights within the education system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), and presented a package of coursework and methodological materials

The seminar marked the culmination of one aspect of the “Campaign against Torture and Ill-treatment in Ukraine”. It was attended by lecturers of higher education institutes of the MIA from Kharkiv, Kyiv, Kherson, Simferopol, Kirovohrad, Odessa and other cities in Ukraine.

Yevhen Zakharov, Co-Chair of KhPG  spoke about the Group’s activities since 1996 in this areas. Over these years, together with their partners, they have made every effort to draw the public’s attention to the problem of torture and to force the authorities to acknowledge that there is indeed a problem. He mentioned, in particular, the Campaign against torture and Ill-treatment in Ukraine run over the  last three years with financial assistance from the European Union, the Open Society Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy and other international organizations.

The seminar was introduced to the study course “The Police and human rights” which has been put together through the combined efforts of the Kharkiv Institute for Social Research, the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group and the National University of Internal Affairs

The course is of special interest as being one of the first attempts to look at human rights from the viewpoint of the activities of law enforcement agencies. It demonstrates that a police officer in carrying out any duties must, on the one hand, act as effectively as possible, but must on the other bear in mind the need to observe human rights and fundamental freedoms. The textbook contains analysis of domestic and international normative bases regulating the observance of human rights, as well as examples of practical situations which make the educational material more vivid and real.

The textbook looks at the following

1  Human rights and how well they’re observed in Ukraine

2  The role of the police in a democratic society

3  Observance of human rights at the level of pre-trial investigation

4  Prohibition of torture and ill- treatment in police activity

5  Observance of human rights during detention and arrest

6  Observance of human rights in police use of force or firearms

7  Observance of he right to privacy in police activity

8  Safeguarding human rights in carrying out investigative operations

9  Special features of exercising the right to peaceful assembly

10  Efficient investigation of cases involvings violation of human rights.

11  Responsibility of police heads for the behaviour of their subordinatestes

The textbook also presents some judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, as well as situations which illustrate problem areas of police activity.

The textbook is intended for lecturers, trainers running courses on issues around observing human rights in the professional activities of the police, cadets and students of educational institutes of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The seminar was addressed by State Deputy Kateryna Levchenko. The topic of her talk was “National mechanisms of control over observance of human rights in Ukraine”.

The authors of all sections of the textbook also spoke, giving details about the specific features and difficulties of teaching their topics to students of MIA educational institutes

The seminar ended with a lively discussion not only of the speeches heard, but also bout practical issues involved in this area.

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