Umm Sulaim's Thoughts

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POLICE PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Highlights from Human Rights Code of the Nigeria Police Force.

A core principle of a police officer is to embody:

Integrity, in refusing to allow religious, racial or ethnic, political, or personal feelings or other considerations, to influence him in the execution of his duties.

Everyone is entitled to equal protection of the law, without discrimination on any grounds, especially against violence and other threats. Be especially vigilant to protect potentially vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, women, refugees, displaced persons, and members of minority groups.

Police service must be non-selective and impartial. Provide the same quality of service to all people regardless of their age, sex, economic and political status, Religion, ethnic background, and other status.

Train police personnel in communication and empathy skills especially geared towards addressing concerns of women, children, the elderly, and other vulnerable sectors of the society.

Police officers should address citizens as “Sir” or “Ma’am” during all cases of citizen contact.

However, police officers must use a more commanding yet professional language to obtain compliance or control over persons who are uncooperative or disorderly.

Respect the need for confidentiality especially among minors and female victims of crime.

Do not use force except when strictly necessary and to the minimum extent required under the circumstances.

Re-orient police personnel with emphasis on the use of lethal force only as a last resort.

Re-train police personnel in proper arrest procedures with emphasis on non-lethal tactics, weapons retention techniques, and officer safety measures.

Request the assistance of the NPF Medical Department, Ministry Of Health, or a psychiatrist in the conduct of periodic neuron-psychiatric examinations, stress management, and counselling services for personnel involved in shootouts or discharge of firearms.

Avoid using force when policing unlawful but non-violent assemblies.

When dispersing violent assemblies, use force only to the minimum extent necessary.

Advise crowd control personnel in situations requiring the use of batons or truncheons.

They should only target fleshy parts of the body such as the arms, torso, legs, and thighs.

Hitting protesters with the baton or truncheon on the head, face, neck, shoulder blades, elbows, fingers, groin, knees, and ankles must be avoided since strikes to these parts may cause serious to permanent injuries, or even death.

Lethal force should not be used except when strictly unavoidable in order to protect your life or the lives of others.

Proficiency [in firearm handling] is needed to enable police personnel to use their firearms with accuracy, specifically if the goal is only to immobilize an armed person or suspect.

In today’s police paradigm, which considers the protection of human lives as the primary operational objective, the death of a person (whether that person is a criminal, suspect, victim, hostage or innocent bystander) resulting out of a police intervention is generally considered an operational failure.

Orient police personnel on principles of stress and anger management.

All detainees must be treated humanely.

Do not inflict, instigate, or tolerate any act of torture or ill-treatment, in any circumstances, and refuse to obey any order to do so.

Do not carry out, order, or cover-up extra-legal killings or enforced disappearance, and refuse to obey any order to do so.

Report all violations of these standards to your superior officer.

Do everything within your ability and authority to ensure steps are taken to investigate violations of these standards.

In the foreword signed by the Inspector General Of Police, Suleiman Abba expresses:

In the fight against criminality and terrorism, there are situations when police officers are left with no option but to use force, sometimes, deadly force, as authorized by law.

However, no matter the situation or nature of the police mission, one imperative remains unchanged: the need to respect and protect human rights.

More than just being enforcers of the law, we are duty-bound to respect, protect, and fulfil the rights of citizens.

Excerpts from The Nigeria Police Force Human Rights Practice Manual

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