Charting the Fragile Path of Progress
3. Police I. Normative Benchmarks A. Re-conceptualizing the Role of the Police in Developing Countries The law and development movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the initial stages of the subsequent rule of law reform revival focused on judicial independence, procedural reforms and the transition from written to oral advocacy, and largely ignored the role of the police in promoting the rule of law. Such an oversight was detrimental to rule of law reform as reformers underestimated the critical role played by the police in reforming the justice system. As the most visible arm of the justice system, the police provide a key link between the public and the rule of law, and effective reform of the police provides a critically important opportunity for increasing the legitimacy of rule of law reform. Before examining institutional mechanisms to ensure independence and accountability of police in developing countries, it is important to understand the history of police in developing countries and the consequent need to re-conceptualize police forces as democratic, civilian-oriented services. International organizations, particularly the United Nations, have articulated standards for police behaviour. The United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement, adopted in 1979 by the General Assembly, recognizes the crucial role that police play in protecting human rights and ensuring equal treatment of citizens before the law. Subsequent UN documents, including Guidelines for the Effective Implementation of the Code, and the Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, adopted in 1990, provide...
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