General Principles on Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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General Principles on Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials

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  1. General Principles on Use of Force by Law Enforcement Officials Model Presentation

  2. Key United Nations Instruments on Police Use of Force • Law enforcement officials “may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty”. Article 3, 1979 Code of Conduct for Law enforcement officials • Law enforcement officials, in carrying out their duty, shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms. They may use force and firearms only if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result Principle 4, 1990 Basic Principles on Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials

  3. The Two Core Principles on Police Use of Force • The principle of necessity • The principle of proportionality • These principles are cumulative (violation of either will usually amount to a human rights violation) • They are also considered in turn: proportionality is only considered if the principle of necessity has already been complied with

  4. Necessity for Use of Force • The principle of necessity has three components: • The use of force must be for a legitimate law enforcement purpose • The force used must be the minimum necessary to achieve that purpose • Once that purpose has been achieved safely no further force may be used • Each use of force must be necessary – it must be justified and justifiable

  5. Use of Force for a Legitimate Law Enforcement Purpose • A legitimate law enforcement purpose includes the following: • To protect someone against unlawful violence • To arrest a criminal suspect • To prevent a crime • To facilitate the right of peaceful assembly • Discriminatory force (e.g. when used to intimidate ethnic minorities) or with a view to eliciting bribes are clearly illegitimate.

  6. Minimum Necessary Force • To achieve a legitimate law enforcement purpose, such as a lawful arrest: • No more force should be used than is necessary in the circumstances • The adjudication of what is necessary is judged at the time… • and on the basis of the facts as the law enforcement official honestly believed them to be • If a suspect offers no active resistance, it may be that no force is lawful other than the application of handcuffs (where this is required) • There may be merit in waiting for appropriate resources, for instance in seeking to detain someone with serious mental health issues

  7. Use of Force Ends when the Purpose is Achieved • Once the legitimate law enforcement purpose being pursued has been achieved, no further force will be lawful • This will often be when a suspect is in handcuffs… • …but if a suspect in handcuffs continues to pose a threat, further force may be needed • Punitive application of force is unlawful

  8. Proportionate Use of Force • The force used must be proportionate to the threat posed by a suspect • For example, purely passive resistance to the instruction of a law enforcement official should not be overridden by recourse to a baton strike or a Taser discharge • Even when force is necessary, proportionality sets a ceiling on what force will be lawful • The principle of proportionality is especially important in the case of firearms (this issue is considered in the next session)

  9. More information @DohaDeclaration e4j@unodc.org unodc.org/dohadeclaration unodc.org/e4J