Security Agencies & Human Rights
Activists worldwide tend to focus primarily on human rights violations
committed by their own governments, where the culprit is most likely
to be the security apparatus which is viewed by some as antagonistic
to human rights given that these agencies are the ones that carry
out the arrest, interrogation and in some instances the torture,
ill-treatment and dignity degradation of their detainees.
But a new doctrine is now emerging in the human rights world
based on the tenet that security agencies can be transformed - as
it should be – to be the protectors of human rights by applying
the law, preventing infringements, combating violence and holding
accountable violators of law and rights of other people. This shift
in vision seems clear and obvious in many countries that have an
advanced human rights record; but not in many other places of the
world where the conflict between human rights activists?and security
services still prevails, with each side viewing the other as hostile
to them and a violator of the law and rights of citizens.
This poisonous relationship necessitates a change in the perspective
of both sides towards each other. For as much as security services
must deal positively with the concerns of human rights activists
and understand their role and what guides them in their activities
and the goals they seek to achieve, it is just as important for
human rights activists to understand the concerns of security officers
and the nature of their work and the responsibilities on their shoulders.
Therefore what is needed for both sides is education and training.
Governments must seek to educate and train their security officers
on human rights subjects in order to adhere to international standards
in the fields of security and policing. They must also abide by
international human rights standards and must not violate the law
under the pretext of maintaining security. It is also required to
have an open dialogue and cooperation with non-governmental organizations
in order to monitor cases of human r?ghts violations committed by
members of the security services and perhaps also to contribute
to reforming the activities of those agencies.
But achieving this positive relationship requires confidence
building; and the initiative, as always, lies at the door of the
state and its affiliated security institutions. The latter must
reach the conviction that the relationship with human rights organizations
represents an added value to the work of security services. It must
also believe in the importance of establishing a mutual cooperation
in specific cases, in order to serve common objectives and activities
so that such a relationship could yield? significant improvement
in the human rights situation or else it would end up dead on arrival.