A flawed process: Revision of the Dutch use-of-force policies
In the Netherlands, AI is following some worrying developments with regards to the use of force policy and equipment used by the Dutch police. Between February 2017 and February 2018, police piloted the introduction of electro-shock weapons in day-to-day policing. As AINL highlighted in the report “A Failed Experiment: The Taser-Pilot of the Dutch Police”, the weapon was often used in a highly problematic manner, in situations where there was no threat to life or risk of serious injury as well as against mentally ill persons and persons who were already restrained. The Taser was also frequently used in drive-stun mode which is not incapacitating, but only serves the purpose of inflicting pain and should be prohibited.
The Dutch police has also recently started a consultation process, in which AINL participates, on kinetic impact weapons to determine if and how they may be an appropriate weapon for law enforcement. This consultation however does not seem to genuinely influence the decision-making process regarding the policy: The Minister of Justice and Security recently already presented a revised version of the ministerial instructions which regulate the use of force and equipment for the Dutch police (‘Ambtsinstructie’): Not only is it a vague document with low use-of-force thresholds that is failing to establish clear and human rights compliant criteria on the use of force. It also introduces electro-shock weapons and kinetic impact projectiles while the evaluation and consultation processes on these weapons are still ongoing. As part of the open consultation process, AINL submitted a briefing to the Dutch authorities to voice serious concerns about both the content of the instructions and the process behind it.
South Korea: Amnesty International reaches out to authorities and civil society to promote a human rights compliant approach in the policing of assemblies in Korea
The Police and Human Rights Programme together with Amnesty International Korea undertook a range of activities that sought to explore how the policing of assemblies in Korea can be brought in line with international human rights law and standards. Meetings took place with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the civil society movement People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, as well as members of the Security and Public Administration Committee of the National Assembly of Korea.
On Friday, 24 March Amnesty International Korea co-hosted together with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, as well as members of the National Assembly of Korea, of the Minjoo Party and of The People’s Party an ‘International Conference to Identify New Approaches for Policing Assemblies: the state’s role in facilitating freedom of peaceful assembly’ at the main conference room of the National Assembly. The conference was attended by more than 100 participants from police, members of the National Assembly and different political parties, civil society as well as media representatives.
In all activities, Amnesty International was joined by two international police experts, Roger Ekenstedt of the Swedish Dialogue Police and Prof. Dr. Otto Adang of the Police Academy of the Netherlands.
The key areas of discussions in meetings and the conference were related to the current domestic legislation, the Assembly and Demonstration Act, as well as the general policing approach in relation to assemblies in Korea. The main problems identified were: the restrictive legislation that actual turns the fundamental human right to freedom of peaceful assembly into a privilege that can easily be restricted and has to step back behind a wide range of other considerations including smooth flow of traffic; and the excessive practice of banning, restricting and dispersing assemblies by the Korean police.
Given the strong need for people being able to gather in public to make their voices heard, the importance of a facilitative approach by police was highlighted: facilitating assemblies through a supportive, constructive approach and dialogue between police and demonstrators were found to play an important role in maintaining public order, while a restrictive policing approach that rather prevents people from achieving their goal is actually likely to generate anger, disorder and even violence. Research and peer review experiences in a range of countries were presented by Prof. Dr. Adang to support that conclusion. The presentation of Roger Ekenstedt on the Swedish Dialogue police served as an illustration, that such an approach actually works and contributes to assemblies taking place in a smooth and peaceful manner. Amnesty International hopes that these activities serve to nurture and stimulate legislative and operational reform processes regarding the policing of assemblies.