NIPSA Moving Forward
On October 31 and November 1, 2009, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) held a Regional Roundtable in New Delhi entitled, Police Reforms in South Asia: Role of Civil Society. At this event international experts from around the world and delegates from across South Asia were in attendance to discuss concrete ways in which civil society organisations (CSOs) in the region can positively improve policing. With governments and bureaucracies throughout South Asia reluctant to make the necessary changes to bring about better policing, it was concluded that CSO engagement with the police, in order to help make them more responsive, accountable and professional towards the communities they serve, is essential.
Many suggestions were put forward as to how CSOs could usefully engage with police. For instance, well researched CSO publications on policing can be one powerful way to initiate interactions with the police. In addition, pressure mounted by peoples’ groups, who provide aid to victims from the point of abuse all the way to the court system, can also have the effect of improving police performance. Another idea that came out of the discussion was that civil society ought to be formally involved in the critique of new legislation relating to police reform. By reviewing and analysing draft legislation, CSOs can robustly represent the public interest when such drafts are open for possible amendment. Finally, police officers in attendance cited Community Liaison Groups (that are representative of the community) as a good way for CSOs to initiate interaction with the police.
A major outcome of the Regional Roundtable was the enthusiastic agreement among attendees to actively participate in the Network for Improved Policing in South Asia (NIPSA). Of the various ideas mooted in how NIPSA could be effective for participants, the initial consensus centred around the network potentially being a useful platform for information sharing on recent and current police-related developments within South Asia. To that end, CHRI (as Secretariat for the network) will develop a NIPSA-specific website that will attempt to consolidate literature and new initiatives on police reform in the region for the benefit of members. As a first step, the full transcript of the Regional Roundtable, along with a summary of the proceedings, will be posted on the website once it is set up. In addition, please forward to CHRI any materials that you, or your organisation, have produced that you think would be relevant to NIPSA and that you do not mind having on the website.