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A culture of respect

Nov 08,2017 - Last updated at Nov 08,2017

The Government Coordinator for Human Rights has just assured the country that his office aims to ensure the integration of human rights concepts among the police force, “as part of the constant reforms implemented in the Kingdom in relation to the human rights strategy”, by introducing a new human rights curriculum in the training of police officers.

As such, “as of today, no police officer will get his/her higher rank without passing this human rights curriculum”, which, the coordinator said, is “part of our continuous efforts to spread the culture of human rights and dignity for our citizens”.

This is a great step, if long overdue. After all, police officers, whose job does not go unthanked, for they are instrumental to maintaining safety and order in the country, are an integral part of the society and their behaviour is bound to set the tone for all citizens to follow. 

A culture where respect for the other is ensured can only lead to goodness and greatness.

All human rights bodies call on countries to raise awareness about their commitment to respect human rights, not only among the police, but also among the judiciary, members of the legislature and senior government officials.

Promoting a human rights culture must begin at the elementary level of education and continue throughout the school years.

By the time young people join the police force, they will have already acquired a culture of respect for the rights of fellow citizens.

Now, however, a start has to be made and with persistence, the effort will succeed, to the benefit of all, and the country will be duly abiding by its obligations under the various human rights conventions.

In the case of the police, more important are the International  Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International  Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the instruments on the rights of the child and combating all forms of discrimination against women, and the convention against all forms of racial discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of national origin.

Yet, not promoting police officers if they fail their human rights courses may not be enough.

Accountability for not observing human rights when dealing with people is also highly desirable.

Also critical is to choose the right persons to supervise this educational process, an important part of which will be attendance of seminars on human rights.

Much can be done to raise awareness about human rights, both among the police force and among other government sectors.

Of course, respect has to be mutual. Citizens should not think for a moment that just because the officers are courteous they do not have authority to act, because they will have that mandate.

The good thing is that once schools introduce this culture in their curricula, people across the board will know exactly what their rights, and obligations, are, and where the red lines are drawn.

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