Human Rights Training for the Police


AU Watch also offers customized short courses to academic institutions, national and international bodies and NGOs from around the world. In the past lawyers, university students, human rights activists, journalists, NGO members people with an interest in human rights have also benefitted from such bespoke courses.

AU Watch research shows that many police forces around the continent vehemently deny any violations of human rights in their country and suggest that there is no need for external advice Our examination reveals a deeper malaise. Despite overwhelming evidence and public knowledge of rights violations and police mal-practice, officers maintain a spirit of self-denial.

We are of the view that attitudes and actions cannot be changed by forcing them to undergo short-duration courses. What is required, long term, is an extensive change in organisational practice and police culture. Our tailored courses are designed to

About the Training Courses

The police have core operational duties which include:

  • protecting life and property
  • preserving order
  • preventing the commission of offences
  • bringing offenders to justice.

The police have additional duties that are prescribed under the legislation of their various countries.

Understanding our Human Rights Course

In partnership with accredited government agencies around Africa, AU Watch has developed a comprehensive portfolio of educational human rights products and services which are admired in the region. This dynamic leading-edge portfolio continues to evolve in order to keep pace with the ever-changing and increasingly challenging profession of preventing, detecting and prosecuting criminal activity.

Human rights principles should underpin every area of police work. From basic probationary training through to senior management courses, officer’sought to learn that human rights should sit at the heart of the conception, planning, implementation and control of every aspect of the operations of the police service. Unfortunately, it is not always the case.

Our short courses strive to enable policing professionals to become the very best they can be by offering innovative, ethical, evidence-based learning and development programmes to help them keep communities safe, whilst they protect human rights.

Police Use of Force

Whenever the use of force is necessary, both the general public and members of the police service expect police forces to:

  • respect and protect human life, and minimise damage and injury
  • exercise restraint in such use and ensure that their responses are proportionate and necessary in the circumstances and consistent with the legitimate objective to be achieved
  • ensure that assistance and aid are rendered to any injured or affected persons at the earliest practicable opportunity.

Staff responsible for planning and conducting policing operations where the use of force is a possibility should plan and conduct them so as to minimise, to the greatest extent possible, recourse to the use of force.

Course Objectives


  • Provide information on international and regional human rights standards relevant to the work of police officials in Africa;
  • Introduce course participants to the overall existing AU framework for the protection of human rights in the administration of policing.
  • Provide an overview of the principal instruments, monitoring mechanisms and authoritative AU bodies relevant to the work of policing in Africa.
  • Highlight selected categories of potential human rights violations which police officials should be careful to avoid.
  • Sensitize police officials in Africa to their particular role in promoting and protecting human rights, and to their own potential for affecting human rights in their daily work;
  • Reinforce police officials’ respect for, and faith in, human dignity and fundamental human rights;
  • Encourage and reinforce an ethos of legality, and of compliance with regional and international human rights standards, within prisons;
  • Equip trainers of police officials to provide effective human rights education and training.
  • Enhancing knowledge on human rights and its applicability among Police officers.
  • Developing skills among Police officers in order to analyze the situational factors which affect the complicated situations they face during their duties.
  • Developing tools among Police officers, in order to handle the situational factors within a human rights perspective.
  • Developing the ability of Police personnel to develop their own plans in order to manage the identified situational factors within their workplaces. Enhancing professionalism of Police personnel by inculcating human rights values through the concept of dignity.
  • Developing insight through a human rights approach into the complex contemporary issues the Police officer has to deal with, within the African context.

Our Training Approach

The human rights / dignity course serves as a collaborative learning approach which incorporates participants’ experience, knowledge and analysis. The goal of training is to reacquaint participants with human dignity and human rights which are values inherent in the rule of law and the African Charter. A variety of experimental learning approaches including: role play, simulations, case studies and structured exercises are utilized throughout the course. These non-traditional teaching and learning approaches assist law enforcement officers in examining the results of negative interactions and the power of authority figures.

Application of General Human RightsPrinciples

Human Rights Standards
• Regional and international human rights law is binding on all Statesand their agents, including law enforcement officials
• Human Rights is a legitimate subject for regional and internationallaw and regional and international scrutiny
• Law enforcement officials are obliged to know, and toapply, regional and international standards for human rights

Human Rights Practice
• Adopt a comprehensive human rights policy for yourorganization
• Incorporate human rights standards into standingorders for the police
• Provide human rights training to all police, at recruitmentand periodically
• Cooperate with national and international humanrights organizations

Module 1: Role of the police in a democratic society

Module 2: Understanding the basics of human rights
1. Understanding Human Rights
2. Introduction to the basics of the African Human Rights System
3. Sources, systems and standards for human rights in the administration of justice

Module 3: Policing from a human rights perspective

Module 4: Prohibition of Torture and Ill-Treatment
1. Introduction to regional and international standards on the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment
2. Case studies

Module 5: Human rights analysis – The obligations to respect and to protect
This module critically examines strategies employed by inter-governmental and non-governmental organisations, civil society groups and governmental agencies to secure human rights within the prison system.
• Women
• Children

This module aims to provide all participants – regardless of whether they have a legal background – with a firm understanding of how human rights are concretely translated into regional law through the mechanism of the African Commission.

This module will introduce students to the theories and methods of qualitative social sciences research and how they can be applied to the study of human rights.

Topics covered
• Students will reflect on the theoretical context, key concepts and tools of social sciences research in order to articulate a critical perspective on human rights
• Students will learn how to identify a range of ethical issues and how to overcome them, understand how qualitative data is collected, analysed, interpreted, appreciate how quantitative and qualitative methods can be combined in interdisciplinary human rights research and articulate methodological steps for Human Rights Impact Assessments.

Learning outcomes

Students will emerge with a deeper and more complex understanding of what human rights are, but especially the African human rights system and why they are important, of both their potential and limitations, and of the increasingly wide range of contexts within the prison system in which they are being applied, used and abused.

Participants will also be able to:
– Understand the development of human rights as it relates to policing;
– Become familiar with the origin of international;
– Understand the benefits to communities and police of policing through a human rights framework.

Who Shouls Apply

The course is intended for staff members of prisons, police and those working in the field of prisons management. However,candidates with specific research interests in these areas are also encouraged to apply. Candidates should have a good written command of English and have high competence and comfort with computer and Internet use.

Medium of Instruction: English

Duration: One-year

Assessment: Continuous Assessment and a written Examination.

Course Fee:



Contact us for more details.