Policemen urged to respect human rights, dignity
Stabroek News
May 14, 2002

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Members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) have to be firm when dealing with issues facing them daily but must bear in mind the respect for human dignity.

Acting Commissioner of Police Floyd McDonald offered participants these words of advice yesterday when he declared open the GPF's human rights seminar and probationers' final training at the Officers' Mess, Eve Leary. The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is coordinating the seminar.

McDonald expressed appreciation for GHRA's involvement in the training of GPF members in human rights related issues.

He noted that the force was doing some work in this regard and recalled that ten members recently participated in a human rights seminar for the joint services personnel.

The commissioner alluded to the various constraints and challenges facing the GPF in the discharge of its mandate to the public. He asserted that they must strive for the force to be seen in a positive light and do their best to overcome the constraints.

Merle Mendonca of the GHRA speaking yesterday, said it was the first time the GHRA was facilitating such a seminar for the GPF.

She told police officers yesterday: "The task at hand is to convince police colleagues that violations of human rights by the police can only make the already challenging task of law enforcement more difficult. When the law enforcer become the law breaker, the result is not only an assault on human dignity and on law itself, but the creation of barriers to effective policing."

She said that when police officers were seen to respect and promote human rights it engendered public confidence and community cooperation, set examples for others in society to respect the law, saw more successful legal prosecutions and elicited support from the media, the regional and international community and political authorities among other things.

The seminar will look at key human rights issues including the international code of conduct for law enforcement officers. The international convention against torture will also be examined, together with a wide range of interactive techniques used by members of the force.

The objectives of the seminar are to promote knowledge of and respect for human rights; to acquaint and sensitise participants with the fundamental principles in treating with the subject; to engender appreciation for the relevance and importance of the subject to the GPF; and to familiarise participants with the various United Nations instruments and other international standards to which they are obliged to adhere.