A protester screams in front of a row of police officers during a demonstration against the death of George Floyd at a park near the White House on June 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. Police fired tear gas outside the White House late Sunday as anti-racism protestors again took to the streets to voice fury at police brutality, and major US cities were put under curfew to suppress rioting.With the Trump administration branding instigators of six nights of rioting as domestic terrorists, there were more confrontations between protestors and police and fresh outbreaks of looting. Local US leaders appealed to citizens to give constructive outlet to their rage over the death of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, while night-time curfews were imposed in cities including Washington, Los Angeles and Houston.
© Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

Understanding Human Rights in Policing: A New Online Course for Human Rights Activists and Practitioners

Have you ever wondered about the critical role of police during protests? Are you curious about the rules governing the use of force and firearms by police officials? Interested in understanding under what circumstances police may carry out an arrest? You can learn more at your own pace with Amnesty’s new free course on Police and Human Rights, where we will explore these and many other issues related to police and human rights.

Around the world, we often see the devastating consequences of police misusing their powers. Particularly in the context of protests, there are almost daily reports of restrictions to demonstrations, unlawful use of force, misuse of less lethal weapons, excessive surveillance, and arbitrary arrests and detention by the police.

Amnesty’s new groundbreaking 9-hour course, developed by Amnesty’s experts in the field of police and human rights, is designed for anyone who is interested in police and human rights issues and will equip you with detailed knowledge on the international legal framework that should guide the police action and enable them to identify when the police officials don’t follow it.

Here is what you need to know about the course:

  • Understanding the legal framework: You will get acquainted with the international and regional legal frameworks, how it should govern police conduct and what should happen when the police officials don’t follow it?
  • Highly relevant topics: Using Amnesty’s research, you will study critical issues like the policing of protests, arrest and detention, the rules around the use of force by the police and the obligation to facilitate protests. You will also be able to recognise different forms of discrimination and understand the negative impact of systemic factors on policing practices. You will learn about the various lethal and less lethal weapons and the rules around the lawful use of these weapons and how to hold police accountable for human rights violations.
  • Real-life cases: From the killing of George Floyd in the United States, to the treatment of Uyghurs in China and the unlawful use of force during protests in Thailand, Peru and around the world, you will look at real-life examples.
  • Dynamic content: through quizzes, Amnesty’s research, videos, and self-directed learning materials, you will learn about a wide range of topics related to human rights-compliant policing. Each module offers additional materials for those interested in deeper learning.
  • Flexible learning: There are nine self-learning modules, which you can follow at your own pace. Each will take approximately an hour to complete. You can take a single module or complete the entire course based on your interests.

Whether you’re a human rights activist, researcher, academic, work in the judiciary sector or simply curious about these critical topics, these modules will equip you with essential knowledge and insights.

Upon completion of the whole course, participants are granted a certificate.

What will you learn?

Here is exactly what you will study in these modules:

1. Welcome explains what the core international human rights treaties are and the related international human rights obligations, and introduces the general principles that apply in law enforcement.

2. Use of force and firearms describes the principles governing the use of force and explains when police may use firearms and when not.

3. Less lethal weapons introduces a range of common less lethal weapons, explains their potential lawful purpose and use, as well as the risks they pose and how law enforcement officials should use them (and how not).

4. Right to freedom of peaceful assembly explains the principles that guide the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, including possible restrictions that may be placed on it and what the obligations and responsibilities of the authorities are, particularly the police, in facilitating this right.

5. Arrest and detention describes the rights during and after arrest, the minimum conditions of detention and safeguards in detention. It explains the judicial standards that govern arrests and the treatment of detainees.

6. Torture and other ill-treatment looks at the definitions of torture and other ill-treatment, identifies the various measures to prevent torture and describes the steps to ensure justice.

7. Accountability describes the different elements that jointly contribute to an effective accountability system and explains what the victim’s right to remedy is.

8. Counterterrorism and other security challenges describes the difference between counterterrorism, states of emergency and non-international armed conflicts and common features of counterterrorism measures. It also looks at the human rights implications of these measures and the human rights obligations of states in the context of counterterrorism.

9. Discrimination examines different forms of discrimination by the police and explains the concepts of direct, indirect and intersectional discrimination. It further highlights how systemic factors contribute to discriminatory practices within policing.

The course is now available for free in English on Amnesty’s Human Rights Academy.

We hope you will enjoy your learning experience, and look forward to hearing your feedback!