Sep 13, 2020

Draft position paper on police reforms ready to go to parliament

Source: Associated Press of Pakistan (APP)


Pakistan's Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) in collaboration with the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) and police officers, has prepared a draft position paper on police reforms in order to legislate effectively and boost capacity building of the law enforcement department.

Prepared in consultation with police officers as the pilot project of "Police Awam Saath Saath (PASS)", the draft position paper would be presented to senators and members of the assemblies. A news release issued Sunday said it contained recommendations of parliamentary groups.

Four parliamentary groups, comprising members from National Assembly and Senate, as well as the provincial assemblies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, and Punjab, were formed to bring reforms in the police department by introducing modern research mechanisms and necessary legislation.

Mobilizing lawmakers for the institutional reforms were vital for a more vibrant judicial system, which had a key role in ensuring the rule of law in Pakistan.

The paper suggested urgent "strategic initiatives" to further improve law and order besides the prevention of incidents of violence at different levels. Moreover, it underlined the difference between "police reforms" and "policing reforms", noting that the former were linked to the department's organisational aspects, while the latter related to functions or service delivery aspects, such as case registration, investigation methods, bail and remand laws, trial procedures, and handling of offenders and juveniles.

The service delivery issues discussed in the paper focused on the topics of women in police, investigation, community policing, and information technology in police. Parliamentarians' recommendations about the "women in police" section were mostly about categorising women officials in the police department and crimes against women. They asked to ensure that women working at police stations were functional units of law enforcement agencies, with increased induction of staff, as well as retention and training of women officials in the department.

Women parliamentarians strongly recommended that crimes against women should be professionally measured through investigation by women police officers as it would help minimise communication gap and increase empathy.

They also asked for increased coordination for evidence collection to carve out strategies in order to deal with criminals through reliable databases.

The draft paper also stressed on functional specialisation, renewal of investigation resources and methods alongside accountability for defective investigation, standardisation, evidence-based arrests, police prosecution, and forensic cooperation.

The parliamentarians stressed for the recorded, rule-based management of cases, only to be conducted and supervised by investigators rigorously trained in police investigation, forensic, human rights compliance, and legal matters.

They asked to develop a separate and specialised investigation wing of police stations to ensure more focused investigative measures to provide relief to the victims. The parliamentarians called for increasing the investigation budget, decentralisation, as well as a professional audit to make disbursements easy and transparent. They said police should be bound only to make evidence-based arrests with few exceptions, which would result in lessening the judiciary’s burden and improve investigation quality with better conviction rate in cases sent for prosecution.

Community policing, the recommendations said, must be institutionalised through a clear and rule-based mandate and a system for selection and removal, tenure to ward off any political, and personal considerations, besides compatibility through integrating initiatives into the larger criminal justice system.

The paper recommended moving from digitisation to digitalisation, declaring the primacy of electronic evidence relevant and admissible under the law of evidence, as well as ensuring cyber security and data privacy for citizens’ dignity and integrity of police organisation.

"The development of this document has been a great learning for us from its conception to completion,” SSDO Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbas said, expressing gratitude to legislators, police officers, and the District Management Group (DMG) personnel for timely and relevant recommendations.

"With this brief situation analysis, the overall state of the public sector with regards to peace and security requires much to be done."