Policing News

Malawi: Journalist beaten up by the Police

21 October 

The Malawian Police allegedly arrested and assaulted a Times Group journalist, Archibald Kasakura. It is reported that this...

DRC: United Nations Human Rights Commissioner expelled in Congo

20 October 2014 

United Nations  Ban Ki – Moon has condemned the Republic of Congo for expelling the...

Kenya: Police Officers summoned for shooting and killing a child

10 October 2014 

The Kenyan High Court has summoned two police officers for allegedly shooting and killing a 14 year...

South Africa: Criminals Allegedly abuses in a police station

08 October 2014 

The South African Human Rights Commission has released a statement stating that allegedly suspects held at Maake...


Current Projects

Current Projects

Strengthening Police Accountability in South Africa

June 2012 to March 2013

APCOF undertakes a range of activities aimed as strengthening police oversight and accountability in South Africa. This includes efforts to support civilian oversight institutions, civil society, and the SAPS to promote the agenda of a democratic and accountable police in South Africa. APCOF has also maintained an interest in ensuring that the institutions responsible for the provision of private security also act within the bounds of the law, and are equally held accountable for their actions.

Recent developments in South Africa in the area of policing, most notably, the tragic events in Marikana in August 2012, have raised critical questions about a range of fundamental issues on policing including the effectiveness of policing policy, policing leadership and current oversight infrastructure. APCOF’s ongoing work in South Africa seeks to contribute knowledge (through undertaking research), and advocating for change through its networks and partnerships.

APCOF’s activities in 2012/2013 have included:

Private Security Regulatory Authority Bill (PSIRA Bill)

APCOF has made submissions in respect of this Bill arguing for greater emphasis to be placed on the accountability of the private security sector. In its submission, APCOF argued that the PSIRA Bill provided an opportunity to address a deficit in oversight and accountability systems in the private security industry with regard to the culpability of individual security officers.

The second draft of the Bill accepted APCOF’s proposals regarding the compulsory reporting of injuries and deaths as a result of firearms, proposed clause 10 (b) (v) and on criminal investigations to the Minister proposed clause 10 b (vi).

In a further submission, APCOF argued that, in order to obtain a full picture of possible excessive use of force by industry personnel, this should not only be limited to deaths and injuries caused by firearms but generally by industry personnel in carrying out their duties.

Furthermore, APCOF noted there is no statutory obligation on the industry to provide this information to PSIRA and proposed that this requirement be included in clause 36 dealing with the provision of information to the authority as new clause (5) along with the penalties for non-compliance.

Further debate on the Bill will continue in 2013.

Support to the Independent Policing Investigative Directorate (IPID)

APCOF has had a long history of collaboration with and support to the work of the IPID (and its predecessor, the Independent Complaints Directorate). APCOF continues to support the IPID to carry out its mandate.

In 2012/2013, this will particularly take the form of supporting the IPID to give effect to its new mandate areas, and to strengthen its internal monitoring, measurement and reporting systems.

Policy Development relating to Policing in South Africa

APCOF continues to work with civil society partner organisations to engage in policy development processes relating to policing in South Africa.

Apart from participating on the Policy Reference Group of the National Secretariat on Safety and Security, APCOF also works with key civil society partners such as the Institute for Security Studies, the Centre of Criminology (UCT) and others to study the impact of current policing policy and practices, and to advocate for alternative approaches that may prove more effective.

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Human Rights-Based Standard Operating Procedures for Police in the East African Community


Since 2007, APCOF has been collaborating with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), the EAC Secretariat and the East African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) to develop common standards for police in the region. This work culminated in the publication of the document, Common Standards for Policing in East Africa, in 2010.

This document became an important instrument for the EAC, and was adopted firstly by the Chiefs of Police of the EAC, and then later by the EAC Ministers of Security.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were seen by the Chiefs of Police of the region as the next step in the process, and they mandated a Police Experts Working Group, to work with APCOF to develop the first set of SOPs. The SOPs are seen as the practical means through which the Common Standards may be operationalised into the actions of police officers in each of the member states of the EAC. The Police Experts Working Group is comprised of both police experts from each of the five member states, as well as members of National Human Rights Institutions.

This Police Experts Working Group then debated the proposed SOPs in detail and tasked APCOF and CHRI to draft the first four SOPs. These were:

  • Arrest and detention
  • Stop and search
  • Use of force
  • Public Order Management

As part of the process, APCOF, the EAC Secretariat and the CHRI also co-hosted a 2-day civil society consultative meeting in Bujumbura in September 2012. The meeting brought together civil society organisations from across the 5 EAC countries and reviewed the proposed SOPs in detail, and made a series of recommendations to the Police Experts Working Group. These recommendations were debated and generally all accepted, with some minor changes.

The Experts Meeting signed off on a final version of the SOPs, which integrated all four of the SOPs into one set of SOPs, entitled, SOP on General Policing and Public Order Management. It is intended that these SOPs will be submitted for review to member states, and then to the EAC Chiefs of Police in 2013 for approval.

The EAC Secretariat has already embarked on the next set of SOPs, and has requested APCOF’s support in drafting SOPs on counter-terrorism and maritime piracy.

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The Article 5 Initiative



Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 5 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights guarantees the right of all people to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. This initiative draws its name from these two articles.

Despite the fact that the majority of African states have ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT), little has been achieved at ground level in giving effect to the objectives of the Convention in Africa. In many regards, some of the standards set by the UNCAT and other supportive international instruments are too abstract to have meaningful impact at the operational level. In addition, international instruments are frequently perceived by States as ‘foreign’ or ‘imposed’ and often unattainable.

The Article 5 Initiative focuses on six post-conflict African countries, namely Burundi, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa and Uganda. The Initiative aims to support African institutions to improve domestic compliance with international law obligations, norms and procedures under the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR). It will conduct research and develop and institutionalise integrated Domestication and Implementation Packages (DIPs) of practical, context-specific norms and guidelines, which can be used by relevant mechanisms of the African human rights system and national actors to strengthen the implementation of standards aimed at preventing and eradicating torture and other ill treatment in Africa.  

The Article 5 Initiative is a partnership between the University of Cape Town (Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit), the University of the Western Cape (Community Law Centre), the University of Bristol (Human Rights Implementation Centre) and the African Policing Civil Oversight Forum (APCOF). The Article 5 Initiative is supported by the European Union (EU) through the European Instrument for the Development of Human Rights (EIDHR).

A brochure providing more detail on the project is available on the APCOF publications page.

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Investigator Training - Building Capacity of African Police Oversight Institutions



In 2010/2011, APCOF partnered with the South African Independent Complaints Directorate and the Trilateral Cooperation Fund (TRI-CO) of Germany to train investigators from police oversight bodies in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2013/2014, APCOF will collaborate with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to provide this training to civilian oversight institutions in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, also with the support of the TRI-CO Fund and GIZ.

Participating institutions will include:

  • Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHCR)
  • Tanzania Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG)
  • Uganda Commission for Human Rights (UHRC)
  • Nigeria Ministry of Police
  • Ghana Commission On Human Rights and Administrative Justice

The importance of effective police accountability is recognised in Africa. Unfortunately its effective implementation remains a challenge. The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) resolved in 2006 that “accountability and the oversight mechanisms for policing forms the core of democratic governance and is crucial to enhancing rule of law and assisting in restoring public confidence in police; to develop a culture of human rights, integrity and transparency within the police forces; and to promote a good working relationship between the police and the public at large.”  The Commission called on states to “establish independent civilian policing oversight mechanism where they do not exist which shall include civilian participation.”

The training seeks primarily to provide skills to investigators from all police oversight bodies in order to strengthen the capacity of each institution to engage in successful investigations of complaints against the police. The training may also include partners from civil society organisations and the police, as decided by each of the participating institutions.

This training is focused on imparting both knowledge and skills, and will be provided in a 5-day residential format. The training is designed to be experiential in nature, offering participants the opportunity to practice learned skills through role-plays and case studies. The training manual includes a trainer’s manual as well as a resource pack consisting of relevant policy documents as well as a CD with selected literature on the subject.

The training will cover the following issues:

  • Introduction to Oversight
  • The powers of Oversight Bodies
  • Stakeholder management
  • Basic elements of an investigation,
  • Conducting the investigation
  • Physical evidence and crime scene management
  • Verbal evidence: dealing with witnesses, victims and suspects
  • Interviewing skills
  • Police officers as the subject of investigation
  • Investigating torture and death in custody
  • Investigating sexual offences
  • Writing a report
  • Ethical and political dimensions of investigations

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Promoting Rights Based Reform of the Use of Pre-trial Detention in Africa


APCOF is working with civil society networks to identify the key challenges to the realisation of a rights-based approach to pre-trial detention, develop training and advocacy materials that will seek to address these challenges in a practical way, promote the adoption of a resolution on good practice pre-trial detention with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR)

APCOF draws on the existing international standards and treaties that govern pre-trial detention and builds on the existing work in promoting reform of pre-trial detention and networks of diverse experience in a number of relative disciplines, including police reform, criminology, law reform, access to justice, anti-corruption/governance and public health. The project will also seek provide technical capacity to national oversight mechanisms to strengthen public scrutiny and accountability of the institutions responsible for arrest and detention.

The project recognises that uses and conditions pre-trial detention that do not accord with the relevant international standards and treaties governing are symptomatic of a greater challenges within a criminal justice system and its associated institutions. Accordingly, the project’s objectives and activities are developed with the aim of linking with, and informing, broader programmes of work to reform key criminal justice institutions (including government departments, courts, judges, police and prisons) and promoting outcomes that will strengthen states’ adherence to the rule of law, access to justice, public health and the prevention of torture.

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Assessing the implementation of the SARPCCO Code of Conduct for police


In 2011 APCOF, as part of the 10 anniversary of the Southern African Regional Police Commissioners Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) Code of Conduct, will assess compliance by police organisations with the code.

In 2011, we mark 10 years of SARPCCO Code of Conduct. It is the Southern African police organisations’ own standard of policing to which they aspire. Over the past decade and more, many Southern African countries have- and continue to undergo police reform interventions with the view to inter alia: modernising their operations, improving their responsiveness to the clients they serve, increasing organisational effectiveness and efficiency and institutionalising the principles of democratic governance.  

Considerable progress has been made in recent years but such progress however, is often undone when reports of police corruption, brutality and torture are revealed. Key crime combating and prevention projects are likely to be hamstrung by the alienation of the community from police that may be perceived as brutal or partisan, and this is likely to have effects across the region. SARPCCO adopted a code of conduct in 2001 which represents an agreed standard of operation by the police agencies of Southern Africa. It clearly sets out principles of integrity, respect for life and of the law which if robustly applied, could greatly strengthen compliance with human rights standards and promote the rule of law. Assessments of compliance with the Code of Conduct have been notably absent over the decade of its existence. However, this has been hampered by the fact that there is no readily available tool to monitor application of the Code of Conduct and identify and promote key interventions that would encourage compliance and focus the resources of SARPCCO, the police services, policy makers, police oversight agencies and civil society to meeting common objectives.

The assessment follows the development of a set of monitoring indicators for each of the articles of the Code of Conduct and the testing of  the instrument in Lesotho. The third phase is an  assessment of other  police agencies in the Southern African region. It will  be initiated at a regional  workshop to  be held on 16 and 17  March  2011. It is part of a programme of events over the year to raise awareness and popularise the code of conduct but also to take stock of efforts to apply the code and celebrate the victories and seek workable strategies to meet the challenges.

The Monitoring Indicators and Lesotho assessment will soon be available on the site. The conference report and country assessments will be published as soon as they become available.

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