Essential Texts on Human Rights for the Police: A Compilation of International Instruments
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I would love to see the statute that Nicholas you are trying to get passed in Uganda. I would love to learn from other experiences in trying to formulate and pass such laws. I also agree and see that the passage of laws alone on a national or local level is not enough. People were continually coming together to write laws and and create practices tha would protect all people's human rights - economic, social, political, etc.
- Essential Texts on Human Rights for the Police.
- Electronic watermarking the first 50 years;
- Human Rights?
- What does it mean to domesticate international law and why is it important for human rights?!
It is recipricoal in that it helps us domestically fight for individual's human rights while also building human rights standards and understanding internationally so that it coninues to evolve as we as humans evolve assuming we are evolving, or idealistically speaking at least. Joey Mogul wrote:.
As a side note, it took several years of NGO advocacy-domestic and international — to get the torture criminalized using shadow reports to the UN committees, advocacy with governments, media, litigation and other tools. I can share an example of a clause that does not provide sufficient protection — it illustrates well the nuances definitional problems that we run into throughout the region.
Burundi is one of the countries that have paased a penal law against torture. It is a provision in the penal code of Burundi. Although its application is yet to become widespread, it expresses the will of the state to make torture a criminal offecne. In Uganda a bill is before parliament and the key things that the bill intoduces is to expand the definition of torture beyond State actors to include nonstate actors and private individuals.
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Click here to see this bill PDF. Australia was in the same camp as the US until recently - ie only torture committed outside the country was criminalised. However, we drafted a new torture prohibition for the Commonwealth ie Federal Criminal Code last year and it's now a crime under Australian law no matter where it's committed that's what "extended geographical jurisdiction category D" means - you will see this if you look at the text. With this compilation we have tried to gather toegther as many of the domestic laws prohibiting torture as possible from around the world. Please note it's just a compilation, and there are good examples as well as not-so-good ones in there.
Thanks Adam and Masha. These resources are very helpful, particularly APT's compilation of torture laws. International law needs corresponding local and national laws, systems that comply with international law, and domestic enforcement to have real impact on our lives. Every level of government - from a local council or school system to a national government - is responsible for complying with international human rights obligations.
And every kind of state action - from court decisions to bureaucratic rules - is an opportunity to assess whether the action meets human rights obligations, to educate law makers about the human rights obligations, and to seek enforcement of those obligations.
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In a federal system like the US, this is really important to remember. While it's important that US federal law meets international human rights standards, federal law doesn't govern every situation. Local school district policies may be just as important in guaranteeing basic human rights for people as federal laws. This really opens up ways in which civil society can engage states to comply with their human rights obligations.
Everyone in civil society has an opportunity to use what they do best, in their circles of influence, to push for human rights compliance. International human rights laws or treaties, will continue to be ordinary write ups or papers of discuss at the international level, if their impacts are not felt by the people at the grassroots level, state institutions and governments for whom they are made. Simply put, when countries create avenues to adopt international human rights treaties into their domestic legal system and make them to become part of the domestic laws, then at this juncture they become weapons or instruments for defense of human rights.
These human rights laws can then be employed in defense of cases involving human rights violations before courts of laws.
They can also be employed for advocacy of human rights. Just as any other law, violators be it state institutions, the state its self or private individuals will be held accountable for any human rights laws they have violated. For instance, in the early s when Slovakia became an independent and sovereign nation, many international human rights laws were adopted into the legal system en mass.
A Compilation of International Instruments: Second, Revised Edition
In fact the constitution of Slovak Republic ensures that international human rights laws adopted into the domestic legal system takes precedence over the existing domestic laws. However, there was confusion among legal practitioners namely, the judges, public prosecutors and in fact attorneys on how to apply these adopted foreign laws in deciding cases before courts of law. The point I am trying to make is that in many countries, it is not enough to domesticate international human rights laws ordinarily, but there is the need to train legal practitioners on the laws as well as to provide the people with informed knowledge of what is human rights and what constitutes their violations.
Thank you for sharing this information about the adoption of international human rights law in Slovakia, Columbus. I was thinking about what you wrote about the legal system in Slovakia:. It is still an uphill battle to achieve domestication of the human rights norms in practice. Masha - how did the campaign in Kyrgyzstan turn out? Are there other examples of these campaigns? Have they worked? Columbus - how was it decided in Slovakia to include this language in the Slovakia Constitution?
In addition, the constitution of Slovakia is recorgnised as the fundamental law of the land and all laws emanate or are rooted in the constitution. The one that international treaties are part of the legal system stayed in the text it actually was phrased like that from the beginning but there was proposals to change to the "legislation". Kyrgyzstan is sadly known for an uncountable number of Constitutional reforms — it seems to happen every two years.
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In such context, getting a good standard into the text of the Constitution is only a partial victory; the real struggle starts with adopting the laws required for such provision to be implemented and with enforcement of such laws. But for sure, having strong constitutional protections helps. Columike, thank you for sharing your thoughts on domesticating international law. I am curious about the human rights laws that are adopted into governmental laws, such as in Slovakia.
Are these laws defined as being of a human rights nature? Or are they simply interspersed within the various standard or typical laws of a country or state? And what kind of effect would defining a law as a "Human Rights Law" do for the country that adopts it? I wonder if it would be beneficial if human rights laws were defined as such to have the retribution for any abuse be in some way different than the retribution of a common law.
I say "common law" to refer to laws that would not fall under the "Human Rights" category. Nevertheless, depending on how one defines certain human rights, almost every law or regulation could fall under that category. Can certain laws be defined as being "Human Rights Laws". And could the retribution to any abuses of these laws include education about international human rights?
And would that be effective? Just thought I would throw it out there! Human Rights are realized on the ground through various means, one of which is the recognition by States of these rights by incorporating them in their own legislation, thus creating a self-binding pledge to respect such rights. This, in turn, empowers the judiciary to deal with violations of those rights and ensures that prosecutors and judges have the legal basis to charge such violations. Although some rights and their corollary obligations - such as the prohibition against torture - have reached a certain stature under international law which requires their observance regardless of their implementation at the national level, the absence of a legal text prohibiting torture is problematic.
What we mean to say by "a certain stature" with respect to torture, for example, is that because of the importance of the values it protects, the prohibition against torture has evolved into a "peremptory norm" non-derogatory and it enjoys a higher rank in the international hierarchy compared to treaty law or even ordinary customary rules. This has for consequence that the rule cannot be derogated from by States.
Theoretically, this means that a State's responsibility can be engaged if there is a breach of this rule, regardless of the absence of a national law prohibiting torture. However, the reason we say the absence of domestic implementation is problematic flows from the fact that by adopting a law prohibiting torture, States positively undertake to eradicate this crime and express their engagement towards this goal.
Additionally, national legal systems do not always resort to international criminal law to solve internal matters. We can observe even in developed countries some reluctance on behalf of some members of the judiciary in applying international legal texts although we also do observe examples of national judges borrowing from international treaties, custom and even jurisprudence. For these reasons, implementing national legislation that enshrine human rights can only be beneficial to ensure the respect of those rights and see them properly dealt with by national institutions.
I think the point made about empowering the judiciary by way of domesticating international standards is important. While of course domesticating such standards is not going to produce overnight success in terms of protecting rights on the ground, it is an important first step and does allow judges the means to begin to engage in this sort of work assuming they want to. From our experience in Northern Ireland it was always very difficult, if not impossible, to persuade judges to consider international human rights standards while those remained outside UK law.
However, after the incorporation of the ECHR into domestic law, via the Human Rights Act, the judiciary became much more open to human rights based arguments. This applied even to those judges that might have seemed hostile to such notions. What has happened as a result is that those international standards have become a feature of legal argument in the courts and that has had a definite impact on the ground although that clearly is a longer process.
The Peace and Justice Initiative wrote They are located closer to the evidence, victims, and witnesses. They are more cost-effective than international tribunals.
The judgments of national courts may carry more authenticity for local populations. And they are essential, since, at best, the ICC can prosecute only a few, most responsible perpetrators of mass atrocities—leaving countless others untouched by the law. Masha Lisitsyna wrote:. I definitely agree with this statement.
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In fact, inasmuch as the ICTY had three mandates trying those responsible for violations of IHL, bringing peace to the region and encouraging reconciliation , I think that no matter how hard one tries, there is a certain disconnection between international courts and the local population that is supposed to benefit from these trials. In fact, international trials are also supposed to send a message at, obviously, the international level: war crimes and crimes against humanity must not go unpunished.
However, it is hard to say what impact international courts have on peace, stability and reconciliation. More importantly, one could argue that local courts may play a greater role in deterring future violations of IHL in the country where the violation took place. Even with regard to a non-derogatory right, such as the prohibition against torture, we have seen governments like ours trying to get out of its international obligations.
That is why we must constantly work to ensure that the international standards are firmly implanted in domestic laws and to their fullest extent. The notorious Office of Legal Counsel memos that were drafted by lawyers in the Bush administration sought to interpret the US legal definition of torture under the implementing legislation adopted by Congress after the US ratified the Convention Against Torture. Sections A of title 18 of the United States Code.