The Pan African Parliament has approved a model law intended to transform the Police services of Africa from what they termed as oppressive to one that respects and promotes democracy and people’s rights.
The Pan African Parliament, which brings together five legislators from each of the African Union member countries, lacks legislative powers but can propose and approve model laws that are then referred to the AU Heads of State for consideration and approval. The laws can then be domesticated and implemented by member countries.
The model law envisages that the Police Service will be “an independent, responsible, accountable and professional civilian law enforcement agency that respects, protects and promotes human rights, and has a close and positive relationship in partnership with the society it serves, and provides an equitable service to all of society.”
The law provides for the role, powers, conduct and discipline and conditions of employment of powers of Police officers.
The model law was presented by the Chairperson of the Committee on Justice and Human Rights, Hon. Ignatienne Nyirarukundo (Rwanda), during the plenary sitting of the PAP on Friday, 11 October 2019.
She said that it would not be compulsory to adopt the mode law at this stage but would have to go through considerations and approvals at the AU. She said it would guide various aspects of policing even where forces are sent across borders.
“We have Police forces conducting missions out of their countries but lack clear laws [to support them]. This would guide their operations,” she said.
Members said there was need to have Police forces on the continent sharing similar attributes and standards and to avoid being used by government or the parties in power to oppress people and parties in the opposition.
“Police must have standards in order for the population to see their usefulness. The population should also feel secure with the Police,” said Alhagie Mbow (The Gambia).
Hon. Roger Nkodo, the President of the Pan African Parliament said “Some laws were enacted during the colonial times and still exist today. We need the Police to respect democratic practices and to protect individuals’ rights and not to destruct their activities.”