Human Rights Training for Public Officials
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The role of human rights organizations has tended to be primarily reactive. Where human rights violations have occurred human rights organizations have responded by documenting and publicising the abuses, seeking redress for the victims and demanding that appropriate sanctions be taken against the perpetrators. Whilst these activities remain vitally important, especially in situations where there are widespread, deliberate violations of human rights, there are further possible roles for human rights organizations of a more proactive nature. One such role is in the field of human rights education. This could include disseminating information to the public about their rights, how to assert these rights and what remedies they have when their rights are infringed. It could also extend to involvement in the area of human rights training for public officials. By public officials we mean officials employed by the state. They include such officials as police officers and members of other law enforcement agencies such as intelligence agencies, prison officers, army officers, and public servants in various government offices carrying administrative duties. The reason why it is important to focus on public officials is the most serious abuses and of human rights of individuals and groups in our societies are perpetrated by such officials, especially by army personnel and members of law enforcement agencies. Human rights training for public officials could result in the reduction in the numbers of abuses of rights by such officials. In my presentation I will look at: • the relationship between human rights training programmes and the human rights environment in a country; • the importance of ensuring observance of human rights by public officials; • the objectives and content of human rights training programmes for various categories of public officials; • the likely impact of such programmes.