- Slides: 31
International Police Executive Symposium (IPES) Are Police Agents Members of the Civil Society?
Argentina is suffering economic difficulties: 1) Unemployment, 2) poverty, and 3) currency depreciation This social problem - that involves approximately 50% of the population.
Consequences. 1) Increasing in violent crimes ( kidnapping, robberies followed by murders and so on), and. 2) Criminals do not respect police officers anymore; in fact, people loathe Police Agents 3) Many Police officers have been murdered or beaten and wounded by criminals in Buenos Aires city and its suburbs during the last three years (2000/2002); on some occasions without any ostensible reason. 4) Police Officers are acting more aggressively against some particular groups of people, usually minorities that are considered “usual suspects”.
Argentina is a Federal country. 1) The Federal Police – with jurisdiction over Federal territories, such as Buenos Aires City - and 2) The Provincial Police. 3))Each Province has its own Police Department. Consequence: 1) Two police department jurisdictions at a very close distance, that sometimes collide
* The economic situation creates rage and anger among the population, usually directed against the government and official institutions, among them, and especially, the Police Department. * The Police have the duty to defend public figures such as politicians and congressmen.
All those reasons make people hate police officers. Police Agents become an interesting target for criminals, particularly for teenagers who like to prove their courage by killing a policeman or by robbing the police official weapon.
What have police agents done to deserve something like this? What is the Police Department doing in order to change its image in front of the society?
Discrimination, a common issue around the world. 1) Muslims suffer discrimination in almost all the Western European countries and in the U. S. A; 2) Catholics suffer discrimination in China and Russia – among other countries-; 3) Jews suffer discrimination almost everywhere. Besides 4) Discrimination by the color of their skin, gender, sexual habits, nationality, and so on.
Discrimination in Argentina (done by Police Agents) involves: 1) sexual habits (specifically transvestites); 2) nationality (Bolivians and Paraguayans) and; 3) members or people who favor socialist and communist party). “Piqueteros”
The Buenos Aires City Cohabitation Code (Código de Convivencia de la Ciudad de Buenos Aires) in its article 71 punishes sex offering and soliciting in the streets. Fact: Over 75 % of approximately 40. 000 cases involved transvestites. 25% Women and Homosexual. No straight men were arrested because of soliciting sex
Another case: The misuse of the National law # 23. 798 (which prohibits to perform AIDS analysis without patient’s consent. ) Homosexual people are obliged to practice an AIDS analysis when arrested by police agents. That does not happen with the heterosexual population.
A survey -made by the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office – established that 1) physical and psychological abuse is transvestites’ first concern (31 %); 2) the second is the indifference and discrimination suffered by “ordinary people” (12 %), and 3) the third one is the abuse suffered by them because of police agents (11%). 4) 86 % of the transvestites answered affirmatively when were asked if they had suffered any kind of abuse by police agents.
Another group that is an object of police abuse is that of “undesirable foreign people” usually harassed by police agents. Police agents to make a special supervision and control over Bolivians, Paraguayans and Peruvians that are easily detected for the color of the skin and for the strong accent they have when speak.
National Law # 23. 950, allows police agents, in very few and exceptional cases, to arrest people if there are serious circumstances or a “suspicious behavior” that makes a police officer presume that a crime was or would be committed by an unidentified person. Who are usually arrested? Illegal residents because Police Agents know that these people do not have any ID, and in this way policemen are able to collect bribes from that minority. During the year 1999, 22, 672 people were arrested because the law # 23, 950. 40% of those arrested people were foreigners. That proportion increased during the year 2, 000 to the 46%.
The third group is formed by people who favor the socialist and communist parties ideas. Many people are unlawfully arrested, and some of them are wounded or beaten illegally by police officers. Some Socialist Parties in Argentina refer to the Police Department as the “most important criminal association in the country”.
Are the Police Involved in life issues quality? The easy answer is NO but we have to take a look at the full scope. The Argentine Police Department has suffered many changes since 1983.
A police reform may connote something different: Depoliticization (e. g. , in post-communist Eastern Europe), Decentralization (e. g. , in post-war Germany), Increased responsiveness to ethnic concerns (e. g. , in Los Angeles or Bosnia) or better oversight systems (e. g. , in New York City). Demilitarizing public security -- ending the extraordinary military control -- is correctly viewed as a first step to take in Latin America The Argentine case is a mixture between depolitization and demilitarization of the police power.
New crimes: + drug consumption + prostitution; + money laundering.
Landmark On July 26 , 1984, The Argentine Republic signed the Human Rights Agreement commonly known as Pacto de San Jose de Costa Rica. The government idea was – and nowadays is – to create a new moral consciousness in police officers
New rules were issued related with misdemeanor procedures. The following rights were established for criminals after being arrested: 1)The criminal is allowed to make a phone call , 2) He/she must be informed that he/she could remain silent, and that silence does not create any criminal presumption against him/her, 3)He/she must be informed of the crime he/she is indicted for before answering any questions asked by police officers, 4)He/she must be informed of all the proofs that the police have against him/her, 5) He will be “invited” to make a statement with the possibility of refusing to speak. That does not create any negative consequence on him/her, 6)Finally, once the resolution is made, he/she may appeal it. This appellation must be sent to the Ordinary Justice in Correctional related crimes.
If a Serious Crime Occur 1) Police Officers have to give immediate intervention to the proper Judge. 2) Any statement made by criminals in presence of police officers is not valid as a confession.
All those situations, new laws and controls are changing police officers image. The increasing of violent crimes in the Buenos Aires city area, have given the police officer a “new status” since the year 2000. The people start to appreciate the presence of policemen in the streets. This way the Police Department is trying to change the face of the Police institution in order to involve the Police in life issues quality.
Complaints against the Police Two possibilities: 1)Make a complaint at the Judiciary Power ( in cases of criminal actions), 2)To make a complaint at the Police Department.
The first step in Criminal Law Trails occurs in the "Instruction Courts" - a written step. If the Judge considers that the accusation is proved, and the accused is considered "prima facie" guilty, the case is sent to the Oral Trail. If not, the case is finished.
In order to promote a legal action against the police officers the victim shall have three procedural possibilities to choose: a) To introduce a claim or accusation against the police officer. b) To constitute the victim as a plaintiff (querellante). c)To constitute the victim as an “Actor Civil”. Besides, one part could be both, a plaintiff and an Actor Civil. This option is usually the most recommendable.
Situation of the Victim Has all the legal guaranties in order to file a criminal suit against the police officer/s. Situation of the Police officers Prosecutors and judges are strongly pressed by Human Rights NGO’s and the media to convict police agents. It is a very common thing to say that in Argentina “criminals have more human rights than police officers”.
Community relations, crime prevention and related topics trainning New study plans were introduced into the police Federal School. Many credits on the fields of Criminal and Social Law are required in order to get the police degree at present, for example Schools of Biological Science, Business, Engineering in Telecommunications and Post graduates degrees connected with Banks, Hotels and Tourism, Ecology and Traffic Safety. No officer can be promoted to Chief Constable unless he has been in service for twenty two years and has a civil College degree. A new division of the Police Department was created to help tourists that may have or face problems in Argentina. To be part of that Division it is mandatory to speak English, French or Portuguese fluently. All these things are making Police Agents more humane and better trained in order to manage relationships with ordinary people.
Argentine democratic governments are making efforts in order to definitively eradicate corruption from the Police Department. A Police officer is part of a society that faces many problems, and that is a limit that goes beyond a Police Department. The Police problems are exceeded by the social problems. Maybe it would be better to start to solve the problems of the society instead of the Police ones