Police Brutality

Authored by Komal Bhati

Definition of Police Brutality

Police Officials have a duty to protect the public and maintain ‘law and order’ in the society. It is their responsibility to maintain peace and stop any individual or group of individuals to create such situations which causes danger to lives of the people.

For the fulfillment of this duty and responsibility, Police officials are given legal rights to use physical force or any other act for controlling any unfavorable circumstances.

But when police use ‘excessive, unreasonable and unnecessary force’ against ‘public or individual’ where normal force would have been sufficient to control the situation then that will amount to Police brutality. The use of pepper spray, tear gas, teasers, choking, hitting, throwing the unhostile person to the ground, sexual abuse, fake encounter, all these constitute the act of police brutality.

Types of Police Brutality includes-

  • Wrongful imprisonment or arresting someone on the false grounds.
  • Sexually harassing the public.
  • Discriminating racially and discriminating the minority population.
  • Wrongfully searching the property.

After considering all this, it is also important that we should know the difference between the excessive force and reasonable force.

While examining the actions of the police, one must consider the following things: –

  • Whether the Police officials are having any reasonable way to control the public or individual in the same circumstance or not.
  • Whether the person who was suspected for causing danger is armed or not.
  • Whether there is any valid reason with the Police officials to believe that he himself or any of his fellow member or public is under serious threat or danger.

These all factors have to keep in mind while considering the cases of the police brutality.

The use of lethal force should be the last resort. Even the death of the suspect would be legal or will not be considered police brutality if the suspect is a real danger to the security of the public, but if not then all the acts will be included in police brutality.

How Police Brutality violates the human rights-

Under Universal declaration of Human rights,1948 following rights are given:

“Article 1 provides right to equality.

Article 2 provides freedom from Discrimination.

Article 3 provides right to life, liberty and personal security.

Article 5 provides freedom from torture and degrading treatment.

Article 7 provides eight to equality before law.

Article 9 provide freedom from arbitrary arrest and Exile.”

Police officials all of these rights by using the lethal and excessive force against the public.

Like, in many cases of Police custody, Police official torture many individuals to get information or to teach them a lesson and sometimes they torture them to such an extend that they die as a consequence. Sexual harassment and fake encounter have also become a common kind of violation of human right by Police official. This brutality performed by Police officials is a violation of right to life, liberty and personal security.

The practice of racial discrimination and discrimination against minority is also a very common violation of human rights among many countries by police officials.

These human rights are universal in nature that is almost all the countries have to follow this declaration and give their citizen the given rights.

Constitution of India gives fundamental rights also to protect the rights of prisoners.

Fundamental Rights given to prisoners in India

Article 20, 21 and 22 are the rights given to the prisoners under Indian constitution.

Article 21 is about the right to life. It says that a person is having the right to live with human dignity.

Article 20 says that:

  • A person should be convicted only for the law which is in force.
  • A person should not be subjected to penalty greater than what is given under law.
  • A person should not be forced to be a witness in his own case.

Article 22 says that:

  • A person should not be arrested or detained without informing the grounds of their arrest and he shall not be denied the right to consult and defend himself by lawyer.
  • It also states that the person should be presented before magistrate within 24 hours.

Instances of Police Brutality

The cases of Police Brutality have increased from last many years not only in India but all over the world. There are many popular instances mentioned below:

  • On 25 May 2020, George Floyd died under police custody. In this case one of the police officials held his knees on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. He in fact pleaded that he can’t breathe but eventually he died of police brutality.

This was the case of racial discrimination by police officials.

  • In India, Police had used unreasonable force against the public protesting against the citizenship amendment act,2019. At least 25 people died across India in the aftermath of the nation-wide protest against controversial act of CAA and most were died of bullet shot.

Also, the instances of fake encounters are also very common in India which are also included in the police brutality.

  • In Hong Kong, Police had used unreasonable force and also arrested people without warrant, who were protesting against the law of extradition.

This is how, Police brutality is being is being very prevalent in almost all the well-known democracies. There is an urgent need to check this issue which is causing greater harm to the human rights of people.

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