Amnesty questions human rights standards of P.S.N.I. training of Libyan police

Amnesty International today raised questions about the level of importance that the PSNI placed on human rights in their training of Libyan police.

Media reports indicate that the PSNI and members of other UK police forces have been involved in training Libyan police in such areas as counter-terrorism work.

Amnesty International has insisted that international human rights standards and practice should be incorporated into any training delivered by the PSNI and other UK police forces. The organisation said that significant questions must be raised around what human rights criteria and standards, if any, were applied to the training given by Northern Ireland's police service, especially given Libya's record on crushing internal dissent and public protest.

Libyan police and security forces have been implicated by Amnesty International in a range of human rights violations against members of the public in Libya, including those seen as a security threat to the Libyan authorities.

In 2006 at least 12 people were killed and scores injured in February when police opened fire on demonstrators in Benghazi, according to Amnesty International.

Some branches of the security forces, notably the Internal Security Agency (ISA), appear to have unchecked powers in practice to arrest, detain and interrogate individuals suspected of dissent against the political system or deemed to present a security threat, to hold them incommunicado for prolonged periods and deny them access to lawyers, in breach even of the limited safeguards set out in Libya’s Code of Criminal Procedure. Such detainees may then be charged with public security offences and tried before the State Security Court, whose procedures do not satisfy international standards for fair trial and which is reported, in some cases, to have sat within the confines of Tripoli’s Abu Salim Prison.

Amnesty International has previously urged the Libyan authorities to take concrete steps to prevent torture or other ill-treatment of prisoners, including detainees being held incommunicado for interrogation who are particularly at risk, and to clarify the fate and whereabouts of victims of enforced disappearance.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

'The news that the PSNI has been involved in training the Libyan police force comes as no surprise. This revelation tallies with what Amnesty International has previously published about PSNI delivery of such training to overseas police forces with poor human rights records. In our September 2007 report, 'Northern Ireland: Arming the World?' we highlighted PSNI training to police forces in countries such as Ethiopia, Guinea, Jamaica and Bolivia.

'We reiterate our calls for a human rights assessment to be made before any agreement to offer training to an overseas police force. In addition, the PSNI should carry out follow-up evaluation to ensure that any training offered results in an improvement in human rights and policing in that country. The Northern Ireland Policing Board should ensure that such criteria and assessments are applied to all such overseas training, not just in the case of Libya. In addition, we call for greater transparency around the delivery of such training, and ask that the new Chief Constable openly declares such training in his Annual Report.'

ENDS

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