Amnesty International releases 30 rules to curb the use of chemical irritants by police
Across the world, from the streets of Thailand to Philadelphia (USA), from Greece to Chile, the police continue to use tear gas and pepper spray unlawfully and unnecessarily, resulting in serious injury and even death.
In countless cases, police are too quick to disperse peaceful protesters through the use of force instead of seeking peaceful conflict resolution resorting to tear gas, pepper spray and water cannons in an arbitrary, abusive or excessive way, often with little or no accountability.
Amnesty International is responding to this serious deficiency in law enforcement by publishing a comprehensive new paper to ensure that police only use tear gas and pepper spray lawfully. The organization urges governments to bring national law and implementation in line with 30 rules for the use of chemical irritants in law enforcement.
PHRP Expert Meeting on Predictive Policing:
In May 2019, PHRP held a 2-day expert meeting on predictive policing. The meeting brought together representatives of civil society organisations, international institutions, academia and police to discuss the use of algorithms to predict crime. The diverse backgrounds of the participants and variety of angles on the topic led to insightful discussions into the problems of predictive policing and the possible approaches to assess them not only in technical terms but also with regard to their impact on the human rights of individuals, groups and the community.
Key issues discussed included the quality and bias of the data used to train and feed the algorithms, as well as the design of the algorithm itself, including the type of data taken into account and the recognition of feedback loops. Another point of discussion was the accuracy of predictions and the difficulties in measuring the effectiveness of policing approaches based on such predictions. Attention was also given to the often-limited ability to comprehend how algorithms arrive at predictions, and the difficulties in challenging these conclusions and achieving meaningful accountability. An overarching question which should guide any assessment of predictive policing systems was if such systems are necessary at all and what purpose they can or should serve.
A report summarizing the conclusions of the meeting can be found here.
Regional Consultation on the Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies (ACHPR)
On 26th and 27th of September 2016, PHRP attended the third of a series of regional consultations convened by the African Police Civil Oversight Forum (APCOF) and the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) on a draft text of Guidelines for the Policing of Assemblies commissioned by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The conference, which took place in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, was attended by representatives from governments, police, human rights institutions and civil society from a range of West-African countries.
The very constructive discussions covered a broad range of issues in relation to the policing of assemblies. For Amnesty International, it was crucial to ensure that the Guidelines give due emphasis to the fact that Freedom of peaceful assembly is a right, an entitlement, and not a simple privilege that can be restricted or even taken away at will. This has considerable impact on how policing of assemblies should be done, in particular establishing a police duty to do everything possible to facilitate assemblies, without placing undue burdens on organizers, with restrictions being an exception and not the rule, prohibition or dispersal being a means of very last resort and utmost restraint in the use of force.