Civil society prepares 'Charter for Police Reforms'

Published: October 23, 2017

KARACHI: Civil society, human rights, women rights and citizens’ rights groups released a ‘Citizen’s Charter for Police Reforms,’ demanding the introduction of various reforms in the police department, which would be presented to Sindh Inspector-General of Police Allah Dino Khawaja.
This was announced on Friday during a press conference at the Karachi Press Club. The charter is divided into two sets of demands – one for common citizens and the other for police personnel. It was made after a lengthy process of consultations just after Sindh High Court’s (SHC) decision regarding police reforms, under which the IG has been asked to make necessary changes in the police department according to the Police Act, 1861.

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“We would like to emphasise that in this judgment we have touched upon only some aspects of the many problems related to policing, the police force and the law and order situation,” stated Paragraph 102 of the SHC decision. It said that reforming the police force, reviving proper and effective policing, regaining and restoring law and order, and enforcing fundamental rights in the fullest sense is an ongoing exercise. “There are many problems which might need to be treated again in fresh petitions and other proceedings, however, even if this judgment proves to be a link in that chain, it is hopefully a step in the right direction,” read the judgment.

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The charter demanded that a provincial public safety commission or ombudsman be established. The human rights cell should be activated in each district, it should issue monthly reports, especially focusing on extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances, and a minimum five citizens should be made members of the cell, it added.
Another demand from the citizens included e-filing for launching complaints and reference number to be issued to the complainants. All investigations should be conducted in a transparent and efficient manner and all funds allocated should be made available to investigating officers, who should be made accountable, the charter demanded.

The citizen’s charters emphasised the need for foot patrolling along with the inclusion of women and minorities in the police force at all levels as per the 5% allocated quota.

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The charter said that arrested citizens must be given the right to privacy under the Constitution and the conditions of lock ups, including sanitary services, should be improved. It added that the assets of police officers, inquiries and their results against police officers should be posted on the police’s website.
A special unit should be created to monitor progress in all cases relating to complaints of violence against women, children and minorities, it demanded.
The charter focused on the security of minorities’ worship places and said that they should be protected by police officers belonging to the same religion as per Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani’s judgement in the Supreme Court.

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The charter also outlined a set of recommendations for the welfare of police personnel. A demand said that the budget for each police station should be put on the police website. Issues regarding the Annual Confidential Report (ACR) should be addressed, as police officers take little or no interest in writing the ACRs of their subordinates, the charter added.
It also mentioned that retired police personnel and families of martyred police officials should be paid dues on time, adding that their living conditions must be made on a par with other government service departments. Working conditions of police personnel should be brought in conformity with Pakistan’s law and international standards, the charter demanded.

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It demanded that police personnel’s families be given access to education and healthcare, adding that all injured police personnel should be given access to the best healthcare facilities as is available for the armed forces. The charter said that all police personnel should undergo regular medical checkups.
The concept of community policing should be promoted at the police station level and the performance of community policing should be made part of the ACR, the charted demanded.
A demand was also made for holding an annual public recognition of outstanding police personnel at an annual police-citizens function, which should be made an important event in Sindh’s social calendar.

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The press conference was addressed by Nazim F Haji of the Citizens Trust Against Crimes, Karamat Ali from the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Khateeb Ahmed from Shehri – Citizens For A Better Environment, Liaquat Sahi from National Labour Council, Sheema Kermani of Tehrik-e-Niswan, Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Chairperson Nuzhat Shireen and others.

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